New York Sex Offenses: A Comprehensive Look at State Law

In New York, sex crimes vary in type, degree, and consequences. To know the law and know where you stand, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various elements of each crime. Staying informed and hiring an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer are the best ways to guarantee you are treated fairly if convicted.

Below is a very brief breakdown of the many of the sex crimes in New York.  Other charges involving Unlawful Surveillance, and Child Pornography charges are found in other places in the penal law but may require registration as a sex offender upon a conviction.

Sexual misconduct is a broad term, and it happens when one person engages in any kind of sexual conduct with another party, without that second party’s consent. Sexual abuse is a second broad offense that involves what New York law calls “forcible compulsion” – forcing someone into a sexual act either by physical force or the threat of force.

Criminal Sexual Act

A criminal sexual act is slightly more specific: in the first degree, a criminal sexual act means that one person has engaged in oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct by force or with someone less than thirteen years old. In the second degree, a criminal sexual act occurs when a person engages in the same kind of conduct with a person less than fifteen years old; in the third degree, the crime comes up when the second party is less than seventeen years old. Punishments for a criminal sexual act vary greatly – for the first degree, defendants can face sentences between five and twenty-five years in prison, whereas for the third degree, punishments are typically one to four years in prison.


Rape, according to New York state law, is an entirely different offense. For a crime to meet the definition of rape, there must have been sexual intercourse or penetration of the vagina with the penis. The difference between consensual sexual intercourse and rape is that for a person to be convicted of rape in the first degree, they must have forced the second party to engage in sexual intercourse, or they must have had sexual intercourse with a party who is either incapable of consenting or is less than thirteen years old. Rape in the second degree applies when the victim is less than fifteen years old (or is mentally disabled), and rape in the third degree applies when the victim is less than seventeen years old. Sentences for rape align closely with those of criminal sexual acts, ranging from one to twenty-five years in prison, depending on the degree.

Predatory Sexual Assault

Predatory sexual assault implies that the defendant has caused serious physical injury to a victim or has made use of a dangerous instrument against a victim. Predatory sexual assault generally results in a longer sentence than rape or sexual misconduct – a defendant found guilty of predatory sexual assault can be imprisoned for anywhere from ten to twenty-five years in prison.

When any kind of sexual assault (predatory or not) is committed against a child, the crime generally results in a longer sentence. Generally, the younger the minor, the more the defendant will be punished for the crime.

Are You Facing a Penalty Based on Sex Crimes in the State of New York?

If you have been charged with some sort of sex crime in New York, it is crucial that you have a defense attorney who knows the law and can walk you through your options. At Tilem & Associates, our attorneys have years of experience representing New Yorkers who have been accused of crimes, and we will make sure that your voice is heard. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 877-377-8666 or contact us through our website.



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