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Sex Offenses

There are five levels of Sex Abuse in DC, with variations based on the victim. First, two definitions:


  • Sexual Act: This is the unwanted penetration of the anus or vulva by a penis or other object, or any unwanted oral contact with genitals. 
  • Sexual Contact: This is the unwanted touching of a complainant’s genitals, groin, inner thigh, breasts, buttocks, and/or anus. 


These two definitions are crucial for understanding what your charge deals with. So let’s break each charge down a little: 


  • First Degree: If an abuser uses force or threats to force the victim into engaging in a sexual act, knocks the victim out, or uses threats to drug the victim before engaging in a sex act. This is what people think of when you say rape: coerced sexual contact through force. At sentencing, a defendant faces up to life in prison and up $125,000 in fines. 
  • Second Degree: Using threats to force someone into engaging in a sex act, or if the abuser knows that victim is incapable of understanding what is going on, or voicing their unwillingness. So threatening someone into sex act, or knowingly taking advantage of their impairment. Penalties run around 20 years imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine. 
  • Third Degree: This is using force or threats of force to coerce someone into sexual contact, or drugging a victim into impairment. Penalties max out at 10 years imprisonment and/or $25,000 in fines.
  • Fourth Degree: Using threats to coerce someone into engaging in sexual contact, or knowingly taking advantage of someone’s impairment. Penalties run up to 5 years in prison or $12,500.
  • Misdemeanor: This is when someone engages in a sex act or sexual contact, when they knew or should have known that they did not possess permission for the other party. Essentially, sex acts or sexual contact where there was no threats or impairment, but the touching was still unwanted/unconsented to. Penalties max out at 180 days in prison or a $1,000. 
  • Enticing a Child or Minor: This charge refers to taking a child or minor somewhere to commit Sex Abuse, or attempting to seduce, entice, allure, persuade or convince a child/minor into engaging in a sex act or sexual contact. It’s essentially 


These offenses also have variations, such as if the victim is a child (younger than 16), minor (younger than 18), or a ward, patient, or client of the accused. Due to each category’s specific vulnerability, defendants in these types of cases face harsher penalties and higher fines. 


Being charged with a Sex Offense is scary. The media is merciless, the penalties are severe, and you might have to register as a Sex Offender. It’s important to retain experienced counsel, who is well-versed in criminal law, Sex Offenses, and trial negotiations. Mr. Norris has over two decades of experience as a defense attorney, and thousands of hours trying Sex Offense cases. He knows how to investigate the case, build a solid case theory, and undermine the government’s evidence at trial. That’s why so many of his clients have walked out of the courtroom with Not Guilty ringing in their ears.