Sentencing Questioned in Case Involving Indecent Assault

November 20, 2018

Sentencing Questioned in Case Involving Indecent Assault

There’s a huge chance that you’re not actually familiar with the legal definitions of either aggravated indecent assault charges – or how they contrast from indecent assault. Pennsylvania law makes it somewhat easy to understand the differences. However, a recent unprecedented legal opinion questioned sentencing in a case involving both.  The outcome might interest you.

First things first. The particulars of aggravated indecent assault are outlined in 18 PA Cons Stat § 3125.  Notably, offenses that fall under this part of the law do not include rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse or sexual assault. Instead, they are categorized as crimes where “a person who engages in penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of a complainant with a part of the person’s body for any purpose other than good faith medical, hygienic or law enforcement procedures.”

There are other conditions that are a part of charges involving aggravated indecent assault.  For example, you could find yourself facing prosecution if penetration occurred when a victim was unconscious. Additionally, this offense becomes appropriate if the someone complains of penetration and suffered from a mental disability that made them incapable of giving consent.

There are other circumstances that are considered when evaluating charges for aggravated indecent assault. For instance, aggravated indecent assault of a child has a great deal to do with the age of the child. Additionally, the manner in which the crime occurs is absolutely relevant.

Indecent Assault

In the meantime, 18 PA Cons Stat § 3126 provides insight into what constitutes non-aggravated indecent assault. Many of the same conditions cited in the aggravated indecent assault statute are mirrored. Additionally, it is not unusual for a defendant to find themselves facing prosecution for both offenses.

However, indecent assault charges are brought against a “person has indecent contact with the complainant, causes the complainant to have indecent contact with the person or intentionally causes the complainant to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the person or the complainant.”

Sex crimes are taken quite seriously when it comes to sentencing defendants. Judges are under an obligation to protect other potential victims. That said, you might be surprised to learn about a non-precedential decision that came out earlier this year regarding sentencing imposed for aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault charges.

Aggravated Indecent Assault and Indecent Assault Conviction

The court decided Commonwealth v. Craig on April 23, 2018. The case involves an appeal from sentencing imposed in March of 2016.

First, some brief history about the case as presented in the court’s decision. The defendant in the matter is named Lawrence Raymond Craig; D.D., the victim’s initials are used for privacy purposes. She is identified as a 34-year-old female.

According to D.D., Craig put his hands down her pants while she was asleep. Subsequent to a jury trial, Craig was found guilty, and the judge imposed a sentence that included “2½—5 years’ imprisonment followed by five years’ probation.”

Although the trial court indicated that it always follows the same sentencing guidelines in all sex offense cases of this nature, Craig questioned the probation restrictions that prohibited him from:

  • Contact with, or participation in any activity with, children under age eighteen without approval and supervision, and
  • Computer or Internet access

While judges may insert conditions in sentencing defendants, Craig felt that these inclusions represented a discretionary abuse of the court’s power. More particularly, the
“probationary conditions…were not reasonably related to his rehabilitative needs or the public interest.”

Upon appeal, the court agreed with the Appellant. There was no evidence that Craig had committed a crime that involved children under the age of minority – and thus posed a threat to them. Likewise, Craig was not accused or convicted of using online resources for unlawful activities of any nature – including those relating to pornography.

In the end, Craig’s sentencing was reversed and remanded for revised sentencing.

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