What Is Sexual Assault? | Everything You Need To Know

by | Oct 26 2021 | Criminal Defence

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In the UK, recent studies present that the police recorded 150,732 sexual offences. Within this figure, there were 53,977 cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual activity with children. 

Below, we explain everything you need to know about sexual assault, the punishments and what you can do if you’re a victim. 

If you have been subject to sexual assault or you’re facing a sexual assault charge, we can help. Please get in contact by calling us on 020 3795 9020

Lady who is upset after being involved in a sexual assault

What is sexual assault? 

Sexual assault is where someone forces another person to engage in a sexual act against their will or without gaining consent. 

Some common forms of sexual assault include: 

  • Attempted rape
  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Forced kissing

Please note, if you’re a victim of sexual assault it’s advised you should contact the police to report the incident. To get in contact with the police call 999.

What counts as sexual assault?

What separates sex, sexual gestures and behaviour of affection from sexual assault is consent. Consent is one of the most critical factors used to determine if a person is guilty of a sexual assault offence. Consent refers to the following: 

Coherent  Every participant in sexual activity must be capable of granting their consent. For example, if someone is too intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or is not awake, they’re incapable of giving consent. 

Permission Refers to whether the individual agreed to engage in the act and was comfortable with that decision. For example, the person is enthusiastic and has given verbal consent.

Ongoing – The person must permit at every stage of a sexual encounter. For example, a person may consent initially, but they can still change their mind at any point during the activity. 


Please note, sexual assault entails various other behaviours and is not just limited to the points above. If you think you have experienced any form of sexual assault, you should contact the police. 

What is the punishment for sexual assault? 

The punishments for the offence varies depending on the type of assault and the circumstances surrounding the matter. If you face a charge for sexual assault, it is essential to seek legal advice as charges for this offence can be very severe. 

If the court charges you with the most severe sexual assault offence, the maximum sentence you will receive is 14 years imprisonment. Please note, the punishment is dependent on the type, intent and severity of the matter.

Are you looking for a lawyer to help with a sexual offence matter? If so, Just give us a quick call on 020 3795 9020.

What is the difference between rape and sexual assault? 

It is essential to understand the definitions of both rape and sexual assault to know how they differ legally. 

  • Rape refers to a person who intentionally penetrates another’s vagina, anus or mouth with a penis without another person’s consent. 
  • Sexual assault is where a person penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis without their consent. 

The differentiating factor between these offences is whether the person penetrated the victim using their penis. If so, then it’s classed rape. 

What should I do after being sexually assaulted? 

If you wish to report the crime and take action, you should not wash or change clothes immediately after a sexual assault. Clothes that you wore on the night of the assault can be crucial forensic evidence, and you may be needed when you report the sexual assault.

Secondly, if you are not looking to report the incident you should seek medical help. You may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Thirdly, rape is very a severe crime and can have significant implications on mental wellbeing. Therefore, you should seek help from the following services for treatment and support. Please see the following:

How can a lawyer help? 

The cost of defending a sexual assault charge will depend on the severity of the charge and the strength of evidence against you. 

Typically, lawyers will first require an initial consultation to understand the case and then advise on your best route forward. 

An initial consultation will outline: 

  • The cost of your legal matter
  • An overview of where you stand legally 
  • Your available options

If you or someone you know is currently in police custody for a sexual assault charge, it is essential to seek legal advice. A lawyer can provide police station representation to ensure you don’t incriminate yourself whilst under investigation. 

Are you looking for lawyer that can help you with a sexual assault matter?

If you have been involved in sexual offence matter, don’t worry. We can help you today.

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