What is the difference between Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault?

What is the difference between Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault?

There are differences between sexual misconduct and sexual assault charges in England and Wales. Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term used to refer to many different problematic sexual behaviours. Sexual assault, on the other hand, refers to criminal types of sexual behaviour or contact. The court system in England and Wales treats sexual misconduct and assault very seriously. Convictions for sex crimes can lead to fines (civil) and extremely long-term incarceration in criminal cases. 

How We Define Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault

Sexual misconduct is a term used outside of the legal system. Many people use this term to refer to actions that are inappropriate. For example, a relationship between two people who work together could be considered “sexual misconduct” even if it is not against the law.

Sexual assault, however, does represent criminal behaviour. Sexual assault can refer to many different criminal acts. Any act that involving non-consensual sexual activity can qualify as “sexual assault.”

Examples of sexual assault in England and Wales can include:

  • Rape
  • Forced oral copulation
  • Sexual battery
  • Penetration with an object
  • Sodomy

Types of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can lead to criminal charges. As we mentioned, there are many kinds of sexual assault. Generally, sexual assault occurs if someone forces another person into a non-consensual sex act.

Individuals give consent if they agree to a sex act. Some people cannot give consent. This means any sexual activity that involves them may automatically be “sexual assault.”

Individuals cannot give consent if they are:

  • Under the age of 16
  • Drunk or otherwise impaired
  • Asleep or unconscious

Additionally, some people have conditions that make it impossible for them to consent to sexual acts. Furthermore, individuals who agree to a sex act after they are threatened or blackmailed have not actually consented to these acts.

Rape, sodomy, oral copulation, and object insertion can all lead to sexual assault charges. 

Penalties for Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault

Sexual misconduct is not technically a legal term. This means that individuals may not face criminal charges if they are accused of sexual misconduct. However, there could be other penalties, such as the loss of a job.

Sexual assault, however, can lead to criminal charges. There are many different forms of sexual assault, and they are treated differently within the court system. However, many of these charges will lead to:

  • Fines
  • Prison time
  • Registered as a sex offender

Individuals must register as sex offenders if they are convicted of such acts (i.e., sodomy, or rape). The court system does not always require individuals to register as sex offenders for the same amount of time. Some people must register for the rest of their lives.

More detailed guidance 

If the information has not answered all your questions about how to manage sexual harassment, then please feel free to contact us. 

Protect your business and employees from sexual harassment within the workplace.

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