Atlanta Sexual Assault Attorney

Under Georgia law, sexual assault happens when a person initiates sexual contact with someone they have authority over, such as between a teacher and student, a healthcare provider and patient, or a law enforcement officer and someone in custody. Georgia law enforcement officers and prosecutors take the crime of sexual assault incredibly seriously. Receiving a conviction of sexual assault will affect your life negatively for a long time. These convictions can result in jail time, penalties, and long-term damage to your personal and professional reputation.  

If you face sexual assault charges in Georgia, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you. At Carter/Pilgrim, we have years of experience successfully defending clients from sex crime charges in Georgia. We have an in-depth understanding of the criminal court system and the experience and resources needed to refute the charges. Contact our Atlanta criminal defense law firm today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for your rights.

Sexual Assault By a Person in Authority

The state of Georgia defines sexual assault differently than other states. Under Georgia law, prosecutors must prove that the defendant initiated sexual conduct with someone over whom they had authority. In Georgia, the crime of rape is different from sexual assault and sexual battery. 

It’s important to note that consent to the sexual act is not a defense when it comes to sexual assault by a person in authority. Suppose you are accused of sexual assault by a person in authority in Georgia. In that case, you will not be able to raise the defense that the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity. Additionally, the alleged victim does not have to be a minor. Georgia law defines people in authority for the purposes of a conviction as:

  • A teacher, principal, assistant principal, or another school administrator who engages in sexual contact with a person enrolled at the same school
  • An employee of a parole or probation office who engages in sexual contact with a parolee or probationer
  • A law enforcement agency employee who engages in sexual contact with someone who is being detained or otherwise in the custody of law enforcement 
  • An employee of a hospital who engages in sexual conduct with a patient or someone detained by the hospital
  • An employee of a correctional facility or a facility providing services to people with disabilities, or child welfare recipients who engage in sexual conduct with a person in custody of the facility 
  • A psychotherapy professional who engages in sexual conduct with the person seeking treatment or counseling

The sexual assault law defines a school as an institution or educational program that instructs children at any level, from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade, or an equivalent range if the school doesn’t use grade divisions. 

The Penalties for Sexual Assault Charges in Georgia

The penalties for a sexual assault conviction in Georgia are serious. When the alleged victim is over the age of 16, the defendant faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years and a fine of up to $100,000, or both. However, when the assault involves a victim under the age of 16 and an adult perpetrator, the perpetrator can receive a 25 to a 50-year prison sentence. Typically this is a felony-level crime. If the alleged victim is between the ages of 14 and 16, and the defendant is 18 years old or younger, the crime will be considered a misdemeanor.

If you face sexual assault charges involving a person you have authority over, you potentially face spending the majority of your life in prison. In addition to the possibility of serving a lengthy prison sentence, if convicted, you will also be placed on a sexual offender list. You will likely have difficulty finding employment and finding housing.

Who Can Face Charges for Sexual Assault in Georgia?

Employees are not the only people who can face sexual assault charges in Georgia. Anyone who is an agent of a qualifying organization can face charges for sexual assault as well. The law refers to agents so that prosecutors can charge individuals who are not technically employees of the organization but could be assisting or volunteering their time. Additionally, the statute states that someone can face sexual assault charges for pretending to be a psychotherapist, even if he or she isn’t a qualified psychotherapist.

What Constitutes Sexual Contact?

Georgia sexual assault law defines sexual contact as any contact between the actor and a person who is not married to the actor. The sexual contact must involve the intimate parts of either person, and the contact must happen for the sexual gratification of the alleged perpetrator. Intimate parts refer to a person’s genital area, inner thighs, groin, buttocks, and breasts.

Georgia’s sexual assault law is often confusing because the law doesn’t require prosecutors to prove that someone physically attacked another person. In other words, prosecutors can bring charges against a person who touches the buttocks or breasts of a protected person, as that act constitutes sexual contact under the law. As mentioned above, the defendant cannot raise the defense of consent. Even when the employee or agent has the consent of the alleged victim to touch his or her intimate parts, prosecutors can still bring charges. The only exception to Georgia’s rule is when the two people involved are married to each other. 

Contact Our Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

If you are facing sexual assault charges in Atlanta, it is crucial that you discuss your pending case with a defense lawyer as soon as possible. At Carter/Pilgrim, our skilled lawyers have extensive experience defending clients charged with sexual assault. Time is of the essence when it comes to criminal defense. Contact our Atlanta law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.