New York Penal Law Section 130.65: Sexual Abuse in the First Degree

A person commits Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (NYPL § 130.65) when he or she subjects another individual to sexual contact, made for the purpose of the actor's sexual gratification, and the contact is either achieved through forcible compulsion, or while the alleged victim is in a physically helpless state.

Whether or not the sexual gratification is the goal of the actor can be inferred from the circumstances of the defendant's behavior, but there must be some justification for the prosecutor's claim. In some cases, the act itself can satisfy the requirement if the contact is clearly sexual in nature. But in many cases there is a legitimate question about the motivation behind the contact and a valid defense can be raised that the prosecutor has failed to prove a desire for sexual gratification. If the contact was incidental, or innocuous, or if the circumstances show no evidence that sexual gratification was the goal, then no crime has been committed.

Forcible Compulsion

The most common scenario in which Sexual Abuse in the First Degree is charged is that the actor subjected the complainant to sexual contact through forcible compulsion. Forcible compulsion does not require that the alleged victim be injured in any way, but it does require that the actor use either physical force or the threat of force in order to accomplish the contact. Pushing a person up against a wall, holding them down, or a threat of physical injury or death will satisfy the requirements. However, If the accused can show that no threats or force were used against the other individual in the course of the incident, then they cannot be convicted of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree under this theory.

Physically Helpless Victim

The other way that an individual can be charged with Sexual Abuse in the First Degree is if they initiate sexual contact with another person who is physically helpless at the time the contact is made. In New York, physically helpless means in an unconscious state or unable to communicate, individuals have been considered physically helpless when they were asleep, extremely intoxicated, in a comatose state, or under anesthesia or sleep inducing medication.

It should be noted that whether the contact was allegedly made through forcible compulsion, or while the complainant is physically helpless, this crime does not require any proof that the either party took off any of the alleged victim's clothing. For the purposes of this statute, the fact that any contact was made over the individual's clothing is not a viable defense.

Sex Abuse in the First Degree is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison. In addition to the potential for significant jail time, and a felony record, a conviction of this crime will lead to registration as a sex offender, which will dramatically impact every aspect of a person's life: work, school, even where you can and cannot live.

The experienced New York Sex Crimes attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have handled countless sex crimes cases of all types, and understand how to establish the strongest possible defense to these charges. We will investigate every aspect of the incident and the complainant to expose every possible bias or motivation to lie. In sex crimes prosecutions, the credibility of the complainant is the key to the prosecutor's case, and if the prosecutor is shown that putting this individual on the stand will result in embarrassment for their office, they will be much more inclined to resolve the case in a favorable way to the accused.

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with Sex Abuse in the First Degree, or any other sexually based criminal offense, you need to contact a top New York Sex Crimes attorney immediately. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman today at (212) 581-1001 for a free case evaluation.