The difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault

Sexual assault allegations can be a serious matter. Here in Missouri, those who face them could be subject to harsh criminal penalties if found guilty. As a result of the MeToo era, the lines between sexual harassment and sexual assault can often get blurred. While it can be easy for alleged victims to make a blanket accusation, both definitions can vary in their meanings.

Sexual harassment vs. sexual assault

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual harassment typically includes unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors in a workplace or learning environment. Sexual harassment can also take different forms that don’t always constitute inappropriate behavior. For example, making negative comments about genders as a whole could be considered a form of sexual harassment. This type of harassment technically violates civil law but often isn’t considered a criminal act.

On the other hand, sexual assault typically consists of criminal acts. Some of these actions can include:

  • Full body penetration (also referred to as rape)
  • Attempted rape
  • Forced oral sex or penetration of another person’s body
  • Unwanted sexual touching or fondling

How the state determines penalties

Under Missouri law, all forms of nonconsensual acts are illegal. While each person’s situation often varies, those found guilty of sexual assault can face significant consequences. That can include prison time and expensive fines. They may also get listed on the national sex offender registry.

Sexual assault charges can be life-ruining

Getting accused of sexual assault can be scary. That’s because many prosecutors will stop at nothing to seek brutal penalties for those facing allegations. Those who do get accused of sexual assault will want aggressive legal representation. An attorney who specializes in sex crime charges can help evaluate their client’s case and defend them in court.