Have You Experienced Sexual Assault Or Abuse?
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.

Sexual Imposition

Sexual imposition is a prosecutable offense involving the inappropriate touching of another person’s intimate areas without consent. Turn to Helping Survivors to learn more about the legalities and penalties of sexual imposition. We can assist you with resources and support. The following content helps you understand how the law interprets sexual imposition.

Survivor Advocate

Key Takeaways

  • Sexual imposition involves nonconsensual and inappropriate touching of intimate body areas. It is recognized as a crime in most states, with legal definitions and classifications varying by jurisdiction.
  • Penalties for sexual imposition can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the state and the specifics of the offense. Some states, like Ohio, have specific statutes and classifications for sexual imposition and gross sexual imposition while others may not have a criminal code for sexual imposition and instead use different terminology.
  • In most cases, criminally convicting someone of sexual imposition requires corroborating physical evidence beyond the victim’s testimony. This may include photos of injuries, DNA, toxicology reports, and witness testimony from people other than the victim.

When a sexual offense occurs, understanding what happened and learning the legal ramifications is an early step toward healing and seeking justice. Because sexual imposition is a lesser-known term, survivors may find it challenging to identify.

Sexual imposition is a broad term encompassing several sexual acts involving nonconsensual and inappropriate touching. Learning more about what sexual imposition is helps you understand its legal route, including evidence needed to prove it occurred and penalties for convictions that may vary by state.

What is Sexual Imposition?

Sexual imposition is unwanted and uninvited touching of intimate body areas by another person. Either the offender enacts this behavior onto someone who doesn’t consent or causes the other person to unwillingly engage in sexual contact with them. Sexual imposition is generally a crime in most states.

Do State Laws Vary in Classifying Sexual Imposition as a Crime?

The legal definitions of sexual imposition vary and include terms such as “sexual contact” or “sexual act.” While there are similarities among these terms, the differences are important for correctly classifying the offense

For example, Ohio law recognizes sexual imposition as sexual contact with the genital areas, buttocks, inner thighs, or breasts. Spouses are exempt from this definition. In Ohio, sexual imposition is a third-degree misdemeanor for first-time offenders. However, if the offender has a record of sexual crime convictions, the act becomes a first-degree misdemeanor.

The following circumstances as prosecutable under Ohio’s sexual imposition statute:

  • The offender knows the sexual contact is offensive to the other person.
  • The offender knows the other person is substantially impaired.
  • The offender knows the other person is unaware of the sexual contact.
  • The victim is 13 years or older but less than 16, while the offender is at least 18 and four years older than the victim.
  • The offender is a mental health professional and falsely represents to a patient that sexual contact is necessary for mental health treatment purposes.

Other jurisdictions have similar statutes, but they define the offending acts or conduct with a little more detail. While all criminalize non-consensual touching of some sort, they often call out contact with specific body parts, including the victim’s genitals, anus, etc.

Depending on state laws, it’s common for sexual offenses to involve associated charges of sexual assault, sexual battery, or rape.

Last Date Modified
May 15, 2024

What Are the Signs of Sexual Imposition?

After experiencing sexual trauma, it’s understandably difficult to piece together what happened. You may have been the victim of sexual imposition if you recognize any of the following circumstances:

  • Your drink was drugged.
  • The offender encouraged alcoholic binge drinking.
  • You can’t remember details surrounding the event.
  • You fell asleep unexpectedly or passed out.
  • You’re under 16 years of age.
  • You have a mental or physical condition that impairs your ability to understand that a sexual act is occurring.
  • The offender is in an authority position, such as a doctor, mental health professional, or a superior at a workplace.

However, confirming one or more signs doesn’t automatically mean a crime was committed. When you’re ready, reach out for support if you’re unsure you encountered sexual imposition. Helping Survivors will assist you with resources to help you legally define acts like sexual harassment or sexual assault. You can find out your rights, seek justice, and begin healing.

If you are not sure where to turn, RAINN can help.

Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to talk confidentially with a trained professional from RAINN.

They can put you in touch with local resources and organizations that can help in your healing journey.

If you want to speak to a lawyer about your experience, we can help.

What is Gross Sexual Imposition?

Some states recognize gross sexual imposition and provide more severe consequences. In particular, Ohio recognizes gross sexual imposition as sexual contact by force, with acts that prevent the victim from resisting or when the victim is under 13. In these circumstances, the offense is prosecuted as a fourth-degree felony.

Ohio state law further defines gross sexual imposition with additional circumstances, such as if the victim is impaired from anesthesia for a medical or dental examination, treatment, or surgery. The law specifically calls out advanced age as a form of impairment.

Ohio is not the only state to distinguish gross sexual imposition. North Dakota state law identifies this criminal offense as unwanted sexual acts, not just sexual contact. The offense is classified as either a class A or class AA felony, depending on whether the crime involves serious bodily injury to the victim.

The law also details situations where an offender threatens the victim with death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping. Additionally, the crime is prosecuted as gross sexual imposition if the victim is younger than 15.

How Does Someone Prove Sexual Imposition?

Like all criminal cases, evidence is necessary to secure a conviction. In Ohio, a person cannot be convicted of sexual imposition solely based on the victim’s witness testimony. Corroborating evidence beyond the victim’s testimony must be presented at trial.

Additional evidence may include photos of injuries or bruising, DNA, toxicology reports, and witness testimony from people other than the victim.

What are the Legal Ramifications of a Sexual Imposition Conviction?

The penalties for a sexual imposition conviction vary by state. When an offender is convicted of third-degree misdemeanor sexual imposition in Ohio, the penalty cannot exceed 60 days of jail time. However, sexual imposition convictions classified as first-degree misdemeanors have a jail time limit of 180 days.

For gross sexual imposition in Ohio, a person who committed a third-degree felony may receive 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, or 36 months in jail. A fourth-degree felony may incur a sentence of six to 12 months.

In North Dakota, a person convicted of gross sexual imposition as a class A felony may be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison or a $20,000 fine. Class AA felonies hold a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

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