Rhode Island Sexual Assault & Child Sexual Abuse Laws

Rhode Island Sexual Assault & Child Sexual Abuse Laws 2018-04-27T13:44:18+00:00
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Many survivors of sexual assault and child sexual abuse wonder how their state's laws might influence the prosecution of their offender. If you're in this difficult position, you may be wondering:

  • Will the perpetrator be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated?
  • Do we have legal recourse if there's no arrest or conviction?
  • Can others be held liable for failing to prevent or report sexual abuse?

Our Rhode Island sexual abuse victims' lawyers are here to help your family seek justice in civil court.

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Sexual predators and third parties who have enabled them must be held accountable for the harm they've caused victims and their families.

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If you or a loved one recently became the victim of sexual assault or child sexual abuse in Rhode Island, you may be wondering how your state’s criminal justice system might prosecute your offender. Some victims take solace in knowing their abuser or assaulter will be taken off the street and incarcerated before he or she can victimize someone else. We’ve summarized the Rhode Island sexual assault and child sexual abuse laws in the section below, which fall into two broad categories based on the age of the victim.

How The Civil Court System Helps Victims

While seeing a sexual predator brought to justice is an important part of recovery for many sexual assault victims, it’s important to remember that criminal courts only handle one aspect of the recovery process. They focus on prosecuting offenders, and far too often, they fail to address the needs of the survivors of these crimes. Victims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse carry emotional scars which follow them for the rest of their lives. They may require medical treatment, therapy, and struggle with disruptions to their professional lives.

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In order to secure financial support for these damages and demand accountability from both the perpetrator of the crime and negligent third parties who could have done more to prevent the sexual assault, many victims turn to the civil court system. A civil sexual assault or child sexual abuse lawsuit meets both these goals and helps provide justice for victims where the criminal courts won’t. If you’d like to find out more about your legal options as the survivor of sexual violence, contact our Rhode Island sexual abuse lawyers today for a free consultation.

Sexual Assault

In Rhode Island, any crimes involving nonconsensual sexual penetration or sexual contact with adult victims are prosecuted under the states’s sexual assault statutes. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, these crimes can be charged in one of two degrees:

First Degree

A person is guilty of first-degree sexual assault in Rhode Island if he or she engages in sexual penetration with someone else under any of the following circumstances:

  • The offender is not the victim’s spouse and knows (or reasonably should know) that the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled, or physically helpless
  • The offender uses force or coercion
  • The offender overcomes the victim through concealment or the element of surprise
  • The offender engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim with the intent of sexual arousal, gratification, or stimulation

Sexual assault in the first degree is punishable by between ten years and life in prison. If the offender commits physical assault with the intent to commit first-degree sexual assault, he or she faces 3-20 years in prison.

Second Degree

Someone can be found guilty of second-degree sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual contact with another person under any of the following circumstances:

  • The offender knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled, or physically helpless
  • The offender uses force, coercion, or the element of surprise
  • The offender commits sexual contact during medical treatment or examination for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or stimulation

Sexual assault in the second degree is punishable by 3-15 years in prison.

Third Degree

In Rhode Island, statutory rape is charged as third-degree sexual assault. Someone is guilty of this crime if he or she is at least 18 years old and engages in sexual penetration with someone who is at least 14 but younger than 16 years old (the age of consent in Rhode Island). Third-degree sexual assault is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Child Molestation Sexual Assault

Rhode Island prosecutes child sexual offenders under one of two degrees of their child molestationsexual assault statute:

First Degree

Anyone who engages in sexual penetration with a child younger than 14 years old is guilty of first-degree child molestation sexual assault. This crime is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

Second Degree

If an offender engages in sexual contact (without penetration) against a child younger than 14 years old, he or she is guilty of second-degree child molestation sexual assault. This crime is punishable by 6-30 years in prison.

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