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Sexual Misconduct versus Sexual Assault: What Is the Difference?


sexual abuseThe terms “sexual misconduct” and “sexual assault” are blanket terms that make it confusing for any defendant to understand what they are being charged with, specifically.

Under New Mexico law, the differences carry a fine line, and those accused of assault might not understand how his or her actions can be punished so severely by the law. This ambiguity is one reason it is vital a defendant understand the differences between misconduct and assault.

Both are crimes punishable under New Mexico laws; however, sexual assault crimes carry a harsher penalty than misconduct.

If you are facing allegations of either, do not assume these are simple cases. Instead, you need to enlist the services of a criminal defense attorney with experience in sex crime defense, immediately. An attorney can help look for a reduction or opportunity for dismissal, because the long-term consequences of a conviction in either category can be devastating.

Understanding the Differences of Sexual Misconduct and Assault in Albuquerque Courts

If you were recently accused of sexual misconduct or assault, it is essential to understand the differences. Even if you have not been accused, it is imperative a person understand how their actions could lead to accusations of misconduct and the severe repercussions of being arrested and convicted of these acts.

What Is Sexual Misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is a blanket term used more like a legal catch-all to cover inappropriate and unwanted sexual behavior. However, it is not a legal term. You will not be officially charged with “sexual misconduct.”

Sexual misconduct has a broad reach, and it can involve everything from unwanted sexual advances to harassment, and in some cases, rape.

Sexual Harassment and Unwanted Sexual Advances

A common accusation made under sexual misconduct is unwanted sexual advances and harassment. Inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace or professional sector is a common breeding ground for these allegations. Realize that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from sexual harassment, and it is illegal to:

  • Demand sexual favors for job promotions, retention, and even bonuses.
  • Create a workplace environment deemed “hostile” due to severe or pervasive inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Make sexual jokes or unwanted sexual advances on a coworker.

Sexual harassment might end up as a civil claim in court where the plaintiff alleges that a person used one of the above examples and demands financial compensation. However, there are instances where harassment can turn into an accusation of sexual assault, which is a criminal act.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is also a blanket term that covers a vast area and also overlaps with the area of harassment and misconduct. Sexual assaults are sex crimes. They can vary in degree from minor to severe or even cause death to the victim.

Assault involves everything from unwanted sexual contact to rape to pornography. These charges are severe, and if convicted, defendants will be required to register as a sex offender in the state. Instances of sexual harassment may turn into allegations of assault, especially if there was unwanted physical contact.

Sexual assault charges can apply in any instance of sexual contact that does not have the explicit consent of the recipient. Therefore, if the person did not reciprocate the sexual advances, unwanted touching becomes an accusation of assault.

Common allegations of assault include:

  • Rape
  • Groping and Unwanted Sexual Touching
  • Attempted Rape
  • Date Rape or Drugged Rape
  • Molestation
  • Sexual Abuse of an Adult or Minor
  • Spousal Rape
  • Incest
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Exploitation by a Therapist or Physician

What Should You Do If You Face Allegations of Assault or Misconduct?

Sex crimes are life-altering. It is essential to understand that you are still innocent until proven guilty, despite how law enforcement might treat you. Sometimes, these assault claims are over-exaggerated, while other times, the accusations are false.

A claim of sexual assault can have a devastating impact on a person’s life, family, career, and community reputation.

You could face not only criminal liability but civil liability as well. For these reasons, you should consult with an attorney who has experience in sexual abuse, assault, and misconduct cases. Even if the claims are false or misleading, you cannot risk defending yourself against such serious charges.

Not only do you face prison time, but fines, civil lawsuits, and the requirement of registering as a sex offender. The conviction could permanently ban you from positions, you may have difficulty securing housing, you may not receive government aid, and your life can be completely turned upside down.

Defense strategies are out there, and there is no such thing as an instance of an allegation that cannot be defended. It all takes hiring the right team of attorneys who have vast experience in the field of sexual assault defense.

Speak with a Sexual Assault Defense Attorney, Now

If you have questions about accusations of misconduct or assault, or you were arrested under allegations of sexual assault, speak with an attorney now at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices.

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling cases just like yours. We believe every client has the right to an aggressive defense, and we understand how these charges can smear a person’s reputation forever. While you might be legally innocent until proven guilty, the media has made it easier for the world to view someone as guilty until proven innocent. We understand the odds stacked against you and how juries perceive alleged sex offenders. We work tirelessly to help those who are falsely accused regain their positive standing in the community so that an accusation of sexual assault does not follow them for the rest of their life.

Our firm has seen too many defendants in positions just like yours, and we strive to help set the record straight, clear our client’s name, and help them move on with their life.

To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our defense team by calling 505-200-2982 or requesting more information online.