Different Sex Crimes in Washington DC

There are several different categories of sexual offenses with which an individual can be charged. Most of them are felonies but some are also considered misdemeanor sexual abuse. The level of the charge is based on several factors. The first factor is the actual conduct, meaning the kind of contact or attempted contact that occurred. Another factor is the state of mind of the alleged victim, meaning whether it was someone who could consent or not and whether they were physically forced or not. The third factor would be the age of the alleged victim. There are enhanced penalties for a situation in which the alleged victim is a child.

In DC, there are several degrees of sexual abuse. It is considered sexual abuse instead of sexual assault and it goes from first-degree to fourth-degree offenses. They are all considered felonies, and below those would be misdemeanor sexual abuse. There are also separate statutes that deal with situations in which a child is alleged to have been involved which would be considered first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Similarly, there are adult statutes of different degrees. A DC sex crimes attorney is essential in helping to build a defense for those charged.


For a misdemeanor sexual offense charge, the maximum penalty is 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. There is no mandatory incarceration at the misdemeanor level, but if the judge chooses to sentence a convicted defendant to incarceration, the most would be 180 days in jail. That differs significantly from a felony sexual abuse charge. Felony sexual abuse charges involve mandatory prison terms that can go all the way up to life in prison.

For first-degree sexual abuse, the maximum term is life in prison and the maximum fine is $250,000. For second-degree sexual abuse, the maximum term is 20 years in prison. For third-degree sexual abuse, the maximum is 10 years in prison, and for fourth-degree sexual abuse, the maximum is five years in prison. If someone is convicted of a first or second-degree sexual abuse charge, they will face a mandatory and significant prison sentence.

Long-Term Implications

In addition to the punishments prescribed by statute, meaning fines, prison, and probation, anyone who is convicted of a felony sexual abuse charge will also be required to register as a sex offender. In certain instances, that could be for life, and in other instances, that could be for 10 years. When you are registered as a sex offender, you are put in the sex offender database, which is publicly accessible. The police and other agencies are permitted to disseminate information about your case, your address, and any other information to the public. Being convicted and put in a sex offender database makes finding future employment almost impossible.

Even with a misdemeanor sexual abuse conviction, you may be required to register as a sex offender in DC, depending on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. Another issue is that if you were to move outside of DC, for example to Maryland, all sexual offenses must be registered. Once someone is convicted of a sexual offense, if they choose to move or work in another jurisdiction, it is incumbent upon that person to research whether or not they need to then register in that new jurisdiction. There are stringent requirements for failing to register. There are numerous negative ramifications for a sexual offense conviction beyond just the punishment imposed by the court.