Difference Between Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault
Under New Mexico law, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault both carry steep penalties. Any sexual assault crime has serious consequences far beyond incarceration. Unfortunately, even a mere accusation of sexual assault can wreak havoc on your life. There are several different classifications of sex crimes in New Mexico, and two of the most severe are sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. If you or a loved one are facing sexual assault charges, the first thing you should do is remain silent. The second thing you should do is contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices sexual assualt defense attorneys for immediate representation.
Sexual Assault vs. Aggravated Sexual Assault
Most states have different delineations for sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. New Mexico is no different. Aggravated sexual assault, as it sounds, is the more severe of the two charges. Below is a description of the crimes and their penalties.
What Is Sexual Assault?
In New Mexico, sexual assault or criminal sexual penetration is defined as unlawfully and intentionally causing another to engage in sexual intercourse to any extent or causing the unlawful penetration of another person’s genital or anal openings.
First-Degree Criminal Sexual Penetration
First-degree criminal sexual penetration is sexual penetration perpetrated:
- On a child 13 years or younger, or
- By force or coercion that results in great bodily harm or great mental anguish to the victim.
This crime is a first-degree felony.
Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Penetration
Second-degree criminal sexual penetration is sexual assault perpetrated:
- By the use of force or coercion on a child 13 to 18 years of age,
- On an inmate confined in a correctional facility or jail by someone in a position of authority,
- By the use of force or coercion that results in injury to the victim,
- By the use of force or coercion when the perpetrator is aided or abetted by one or more persons,
- In the commission of any other felony, or
- With the use of a deadly weapon.
These crimes are second-degree felonies.
Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Penetration
In New Mexico, third-degree criminal sexual penetration is defined as all criminal sexual penetration perpetrated through the use of force or coercion not otherwise specified in the prior sections. Criminal sexual penetration in the third degree is a third-degree felony.
Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Penetration
Fourth-degree criminal sexual penetration is perpetrated:
- On a child 13 to 16 years of age when the perpetrator is at least 18 and is at least four years older than the child; or
- On a child 13 to 18 years of age by a licensed school employee where the victim is a student.
Criminal sexual penetration in the fourth degree is a fourth-degree felony.
What Is Aggravated Sexual Assault?
Like many other crimes, sexual assault could be elevated to aggravated sexual assault under certain circumstances. Aggravated criminal sexual penetration consists of all criminal sexual penetration perpetrated on a child under 13 with an intent to kill or with a depraved mind that disregards human life.
An individual that commits aggravated criminal sexual penetration is guilty of a first-degree felony. Aggravated criminal sexual penetration is undoubtedly one of the most serious offenses you could face. Getting a rock-solid strategy and plan in place to defend yourself is critical.
What Is the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault?
The main difference between sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault is the aggravating factors present in aggravated sexual assault cases. It only stands to reason that the resulting penalties for aggravated criminal sexual penetration are harsher than those for non-aggravated offenses.
Sexual Assault Felony Penalties
The penalties for a criminal sexual penetration conviction under New Mexico law vary depending on the degree of the offense.
The penalty for a first-degree felony is:
- Up to 18 years in prison,
- Up to a $15,000 fine, and
- Up to life in prison plus a fine of $17,500 for aggravated criminal sexual penetration.
The judge can decide to sentence you anywhere within these ranges for a first-degree felony.
The penalty for a second-degree felony is:
- Up to 9 years in prison,
- Up to a fine of $10,000, and
- Up to 15 years in prison if the sexual offense involves a child.
Again, the judge has the discretion to consider the particular facts of your case and your prior criminal history when deciding where on this spectrum your appropriate sentence lies.
The penalty for a third-degree felony in New Mexico is:
- Up to 3 years in prison,
- Up to a $5,000 fine, and
- Up to 6 years in prison if the offense involves a child.
Your lawyer can present evidence at sentencing that might help you get a sentence toward the lower end of all these spectrums.
Under New Mexico law, the penalty for a fourth-degree felony is:
- Up to 18 months in prison,
- Up to a fine of $5,000, and
- Up to 10 years in prison if the crime involves the sexual exploitation of a child.
As you can see, even the least serious felony still carries a potential prison term. It is imperative to have a skilled defense attorney to represent you when the government charges you with such serious crimes.
Sexual assault is serious, but it’s not indefensible. A skilled criminal defense attorney will discuss potential defenses with you. These may include the following:
- Consent (so long as the alleged victim is over the age of consent),
- False allegations, and
- Constitutional violations of your rights.
You are innocent until proven guilty, and the right lawyer will know the best course of action. In some cases, that is seeing the case through to trial, while in others, it may be negotiating a favorable plea deal.
New Mexico Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys
Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault charges can destroy your life, even if they are false allegations. For the past 25 years, the attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have dedicated our careers to helping defend people accused of crimes. You should not face such monumental charges alone. You need a sharp, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney protecting you every step of the way. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation at your convenience.