Assault by penetration is one of the three most common sexual crimes under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It occurs when a someone intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person without their consent, and the perpetrator does not reasonably believe that the other person consents. Penetration can take place by use of a body part or anything else such as a bottle, and can be committed by either gender. It is a very serious allegation that can only be heard by the Crown Court and the maximum sentence if you are found guilty is life imprisonment.

What is the difference between rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration?

According to the law, only a man can commit rape (as the penetration must be with a penis). Rape is committed where a man intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis when the other person does not consent. Sexual assault by penetration should be charged where there is insufficient evidence to charge rape, i.e. if the victim is unsure if penetration of the vagina or anus was by a penis or something else.

A person found guilty of rape or assault by penetration can be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Sexual assault occurs when a person intentionally touches another person for sexual purposes without the consent of that person. It does not involve penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth.

A person found guilty of sexual assault can be sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Each of these is a very specific offence and your plea will depend on the specific charge against you.

If you are accused of sexual assault by penetration the Prosecution will start building a case against you and it’s paramount that you find legal representation fast. Every case is different but defences that may be raised and argued may be that the accused did not commit the act at all, that the act was not sexually motivated, that the alleged victim did consent or that the accused believed the other person had consented.

The issue of consent is a relatively complex one but is essentially where a person has agreed by their own choice to the act and where they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice—the court will consider whether the accuser was vulnerable or had the capacity to consent, i.e. under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as considering their maturity, age and the history of the relationship between the complainant and accused. There are specific serious sexual offences that now exist, that didn’t prior to 2003, which deal with where the sexual act takes place, and involves another party that may have limited mental capacity or be considered particularly vulnerable.

If you are accused of sexual assault by penetration it is crucial that you are represented by someone who is an expert in this complex and very serious area of law. The consequences of a conviction for a sexual assault or rape are very grave and will have life changing consequences for the person accused and those around them. It is vital that your future is not left in the hands of a general criminal defence lawyer who may not have the expertise or experience in dealing with these matters. At Lawtons, we have the experience and expertise and  will do everything in our professional power to put forward your case in a proper and best way to ensure that you get the best outcome possible in the circumstances wherever the case may be.