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Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Battery

Sexual assault and sexual battery are two different crimes committed against a person in a sexual manner. They are all treated differently by the respective states and countries.

Since most victims do not realize the severity of each or the difference, they end up suffering in the hands of their assaulter as they do not know the processes to follow to get justice. Suspects may also end up not getting justice if they do not have an idea of what they did and whether it qualified to be either of the two acts.

While a sexual assault is considered a crime of rape, sexual battery is considered different in nature and treated as a lesser crime. However, they both involve sexual harassment and are punishable by law in most countries. 

If you have undergone any of the offenses subjected to you by your friends, family, neighbors, or workmates, it is advised that you seek legal and medical help instantly. The differences herein will help you make a faster decision on the grounds you may look for help on.


Definition of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a criminal act where an individual physically forces or coerces another to engage in sexual intercourse with them. As a sexual violence, it encompasses rape and includes oral, vaginal, and anal penetration without consent from one of the parties.

Sexual assault also includes groping, child sexual abuse, and any torture done in a sexual manner. In determining whether an act was a sexual assault, the biggest factor that is put into consideration is the absence of consent.

Various Considerations of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is treated differently depending on the country or state. In the United States, for example, a sexual assault case is defined differently and depends on the laws in effect.

For some of the states in the US, such acts as sexual threats, attempted rape, or even touching one’s body in a sexual way (regardless of whether they have clothes on or not) are considered sexual assault. The fact that the victim was touched “inappropriately” and without their will or consent constitutes a sexual assault.

Sexual Assault Laws

There exist sexual assault laws for each state in the US. They differ from state to state and the rules of sentencing vary too. The federal government also has a way of enforcing its systems of sentencing sexual assaulter.


Definition of Sexual Battery

Sexual battery is defined as any unwanted contact with an intimate part of the body of an individual. The contact qualifies to be an offense if done with the intention of creating sexual arousal, sexual abuse, or sexual gratification.

In qualifying sexual battery, the presence or absence of clothes does not determine the course of the case. It is an offense, whether the victim is dressed or not.

Sexual Battery Laws and Legal Considerations

A few states and countries treat sexual battery as a more serious offence of criminal sexual penetration or rape. In general, and in most countries, it is considered as a lesser sexual offense only involving “inappropriate” touching.

Most law considerations take sexual battery as a criminal act that does not necessarily involve sodomy or penetration. However, it does involve sexual nature touching without the consent of the victim’s consent.

When making judgement for sexual battery, the penalties vary from the ones revved against rape offenders. The sentences range from between one to several years and are dependent on the state’s sentencing guidelines.

Aggravated Sexual Battery

If a sexual battery case is treated as aggravated, it becomes a more serious form of sexual harassment. It becomes aggravated if it involves:

  • A minor
  • Mentally or physically challenged victims
  • Physical harm or injury to the victim
  • Use of coercion, force, or weapon
  • Presence of more than one perpetrator


Possible Similarities Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse

The issue of consent is the top determining factor while making a judgement of the two. The two offenses qualify to be if there was no consent from the victim to allow the offender to make any sexual move towards them.


Differences Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Battery

  1. Meaning of Sexual Assault Vs. Battery

Sexual assault refers to a sexual criminal offense where the offender forces their victim to engage in sexual intercourse with them. Sexual battery, on the other hand, is a sexual crime qualified by intimately touching someone else’s body with the aim of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.

  1. Form

Sexual assault is rape in general terms. It is qualified as so if it happened through any sexual intercourse including vaginal penetration, sodomy, oral or anal sexual activity with the slightest form of penetration. Sexual battery is sexual in nature but does not involve any sort of penetration.

  1. Law

Sexual assault or rape is treated as a more serious crime while sexual battery is usually treated as a lesser crime. However, the laws vary from state to state and from country to country.

Sexual Assault Vs. Sexual Battery: Comparison Table


Summary of Sexual Assault Vs. Battery

Sexual assault and sexual battery differ based on different aspects. Also, the laws surrounding them vary widely from one jurisdiction to the other. All the same, the two are crimes and carry probable imprisonment terms. The general similarity between the two is that they happen with the absence of consent.

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References :

[0]"Sexual Battery - Definition, Examples, Meaning, Aggravated, And Cases". Legal Dictionary, 2018, https://legaldictionary.net/sexual-battery/. Accessed 29 Oct 2018.

[1]Baldwin, Lauren. "What Is The Difference Between Sexual Battery And Rape?". Www.Criminaldefenselawyer.Com, 2018, https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/what-difference-between-sexual-battery-and-rape.htm. Accessed 29 Oct 2018.

[2]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:West_Midlands_Police_-_Rape_and_Serious_Sexual_Offences_Campaign_(8102669207).jpg

[3]Image credit: https://media.defense.gov/2016/Apr/11/2001513657/780/780/0/160401-F-HB600-002.jpg

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