Just Because You Don’t Think It’s a Sex Crime, Does Not Mean It Isn’t: An Overview of Sexual Imposition Laws in Ohio

The average person has a general idea of what constitutes rape or sexual battery, but are not aware that certain reckless behavior or sexual contact with an impaired person constitutes the criminal offense of sexual imposition.

What is Sexual Imposition?

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.06, it is a criminal offense for a person to have sexual contact, cause another person to have sexual contact, or cause two or more persons to have sexual contact with a person who is not their spouse when:

  • The alleged offender knew the sexual contact was offensive or the conduct was reckless;
  • The alleged offender knew the other person’s ability to control the offender’s conduct was substantially impaired;
  • The alleged offender knew the other person submitted because they were unaware of the sexual contact;
  • The alleged offender was at least 18 at the time of the offense and four or more years older than the other person, and the other person was 13 at the time of the offense but less than 16 years old; OR
  • The alleged offender is or was a mental health professional who induced a client or patient to believe the sexual conduct was necessary for mental health treatment.

Sexual Imposition Criminal Penalties

Sexual Imposition may be a misdemeanor of the first or third degree depending on the defendant’s previous sexual offense convictions. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable up to 180 days in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000. A third degree misdemeanor is punishable up to 60 days in jail and a fine of no more than $500.

Ohio Sexual Imposition Cases

While the aforementioned statute appears straight forward, there has been much debate over what constitutes sexual imposition and the evidence necessary to support a criminal conviction.

It is well established in Ohio law that a person cannot be convicted of sexual imposition solely based on the testimony of the alleged victim, but how much evidence is necessary to support a sexual imposition conviction? Does an alleged victim have to prove force or injury?

In the cases below, the Ohio Supreme Court has clarified the elements of a sexual imposition conviction and corroborating evidence necessary to support a sexual imposition conviction.

State v. Economo, 76 Ohio St.3d 56, 666 N.E.2d 225 (Ohio, 1996)

In State v. Economo a medical doctor was convicted of two counts of sexual imposition after he allegedly inappropriately touched a female patient during two office visits. He allegedly massaged her private areas and rubbed his pant-covered erect penis on her arm. The Court in Economo reasoned the aforementioned conduct was offensive and reckless.

The defendant in Economo argued that the aforementioned conduct could not be corroborated other than by testimony of the alleged victim and her sister. The Court rejected his argument stating that sexual imposition is different from other sexual offenses as it does not involve force. A victim of sexual imposition will likely not have any bruises or marks to evidence the attack.

The Court reasoned that the other evidence, including proof that the victim had a doctor’s appointment with the defendant on the dates of the alleged assaults, the victim and the defendant had a 2-year patient-physician relationship, the victim’s fear of being alone in an exam room with the defendant, and the sister’s testimony that the victim was near tears after the appointment was sufficient proof the sexual imposition occurred. The defendant’s sexual imposition conviction was reinstated.

State v. Guenther, 2006 Ohio 767 (OH 2/22/2006), 2006 Ohio 767 (OH, 2006)

The defendant in Guenther was convicted of one count of sexual imposition and one count of gross imposition. The defendant allegedly inappropriately touched a female co-worker inappropriately on at least three occasions.

According to the testimony of the testimony of the victim, the defendant touched the victim’s breast by rubbing his chest against hers on one occasion. On the second occasion another male blocked the victim from exiting the room and the defendant touched the victim’s breast. On the third occasion the defendant prevented the victim from exiting her chair so he could touch her breasts in a small room.

The victim’s testimony was corroborated by the workplace supervisor, who had not witnessed the inappropriate touching, but was aware the victim was visibly shaken around the defendant. The supervisor was also afraid of the defendant and attempted to prevent his access to the victim.

The Court in Guenther reasoned the aforementioned evidence was sufficient to support his conviction and affirmed his conviction of sexual imposition and gross sexual imposition.

Conclusion

A sexual imposition case is fact intensive and requires a strong defense. While you may be falsely accused or your actions may have been misinterpreted, this may not be properly heard or believed by the jury in criminal court.

It is highly recommended to consult an experienced sexual imposition defense attorney if you are facing sexual imposition or gross sexual imposition charges in Ohio. Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm is a trial proven sex crimes defense attorney.

Brian Joslyn has years of experience defending individuals facing sexual imposition charges. He is familiar with the tactics of the sex crimes investigators and prosecutors. He will skillfully examine all the evidence against you and develop the strongest defense possible.

If you have been charged with any sex crime, including sexual imposition, gross sexual imposition, rape, or child pornography contact the Joslyn Law Firm immediately at 614-444-1900 for a free evaluation of your case.

The Joslyn Law Firm diligently defends individuals throughout Ohio, including Franklin County, Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County.

References:

State v. Economo, 76 Ohio St.3d 56, 666 N.E.2d 225 (Ohio, 1996)

State v. Guenther, 2006 Ohio 767 (OH 2/22/2006), 2006 Ohio 767 (OH, 2006)

Because Ladies Lie: Eliminating Vestiges of the Corroboration and Resistance Requirements from Ohio’s Sexual Offenses, Cleveland State Law Review, 2014.

 

Solicitation Stings Changing in Ohio, but Alleged Offenders Still Have Options for Defenses

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Law enforcement officers and agencies throughout the country are changing the way in which they target those suspected of prostitution and solicitation. In some instances, agencies even have utilized online solicitation websites to garner arrests and more information into the local prostitution business.

In Ohio, some law enforcement agencies have used the adult entertainment classified site backpage.com to make prostitution-related arrests. According to WHIO, Dayton police officers arrested a man for solicitation after he responded to an advertisement on the website placed by the department’s Vice Crimes Unit.

Police departments long have used sting operations to make prostitution and solicitation arrests. Many times, undercover officers would pose as prostitutes and officers would arrest those who solicit the officer. Now, as technology changes, departments are utilizing the Internet for these decoy solicitation operations.

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.241, solicitation is defined as knowingly and intentionally attempting to persuade, compel, induce or encourage  someone to participate in sexual activity in order to receive some form of compensation. In these instances, the act does not necessarily have to be committed for the charge to apply.

For instance, if a person is accused of soliciting an undercover officer and suggesting he or she will pay for some sort of sexual act, other officers likely would make the arrest and the act would not occur. Simply offering or attempting to persuade someone is enough for the arrest.

Additionally, the compensation offered does not have to be monetary. For example, a person could be arrested and charged with solicitation if he offers an undercover officer some other type of benefit in exchange for sex. This benefit could be goods, drugs, transportation or any other object.

Solicitation of a prostitute generally is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. However, the biggest consequence associated with a charge for solicitation is the possibility of a criminal record.

Once a person is convicted of solicitation, the information becomes public record. This means future employers, family members and even spouses can see your criminal history. Although the court-issued punishments may seem minor, a conviction could have a long lasting effect on the social and personal aspects of a person’s life.

Some offenders could be eligible for a diversion program, often called a “John School.” During this program, participants are educated on the risks and dangers of soliciting a prostitute and the health risks associated with participating in sexual activity with a prostitute.

Additionally, participants in the program also will hear from former sex workers who have since stopped working as a prostitute. They explain what their lives were like and how they were affected by their former professions. The goal of the program is to decrease the likeliness of the person to re-offend.

If the program is successfully completed, the offender could have the charges against him or her dropped. This could mean avoiding time behind bars and not having a criminal record. However, being accepted into the diversion program can be difficult. The programs often are full and finding space for an offender can be tricky.

A skilled criminal defense attorney can make the difference in your case. Whether it is getting the charges dropped or getting an offender enrolled in a John School, the attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm can help you avoid a damning criminal record. Our law firm is honest with our clients and discrete with their information. No matter your situation, we can help you quietly solve your criminal charges.

If you have been accused of soliciting a prostitute, contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900. Our experienced attorneys can help you move on with your life after the allegations. You future is important, and so is protecting your reputation. Call today to schedule a free consultation about your unique case.

Sexual Relations with a Minor can Lead to Serious Penalties

A hearing yesterday resulted in a former Franklin County bus driver being sentences to 30 days in prison for engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old boy on the bus that she drove. The 23 year-old driver will also serve 3 years on probation, pay a fine of $500 and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years. Her relationship with the boy was consensual, but Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.04 outlines that engaging in sexual conduct with a person between 13 and 16 years old if considered “Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor”, and can be considered a 1st degree misdemeanor or a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree felony depending on the nature of the offense.

The driver could have been sentenced to simple probation time, but the judge ultimately decided on a harsher punishment. This demonstrates the range of penalties that an offender may face, and how vastly a sentence could be affected by the lawyers and judges involved in the case.

If the offender had been a teacher, coach, or other authority figure, they could be charged with sexual battery, a crime which generally carries much harsher penalties. Bus drivers, however, do not fall under this category.

Engaging in sexual activities with a minor is considered a serious offense because a minor under 16 is not deemed old enough to knowingly consent to a sexual relationship. While older men engaging in a relationship with younger women is statistically more common, this case is an example that the reversed scenario still occurs, and penalties are still harshly enforced on both men and women for this offense.

The consequences that the driver faces can interfere with her future for decades to come. Registering as a sex offender may dictate where you can live and your employment opportunities. Any charge involving sexual acts with a minor, whether consensual or not, carry a heavy social stigma that can make many aspects of life difficult. That’s why it’s so important to seek the help of an experienced attorney when charged with a sexual offense. A lawyer can fight for more lenient sentencing if you are convicted, and you may stand a better chance of avoiding penalties such as requirement to register as a sex offender.