Andrew H. Stevenson
Sexual Imposition in Ohio
What is Sexual Imposition in Ohio?
“Sexual Imposition” is having sexual contact with another person when the offender knows that the sexual contact is offensive to the other person, or is reckless in that regard. “Sexual contact” is any touching of an erogenous zone of another. “Erogenous zones” include the thigh, genitals, buttocks, pubic region, or breast.
Combining these terms and simplifying: Sexual Imposition is offensively touching another person in a sexual manner or touching another person in a sexual erogenous zone.
In order for a person to be convicted of sexual imposition, the touching must be done for the “purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.” Without this requirement a host of non-sexual interactions would be criminalized such as doctor’s exams, messages, medical baths, etc.
Additionally, spouses are excluded. Married couples cannot charge one another with Sexual Imposition.
What are the Consequences of a Sexual Imposition Conviction in Ohio?
Sexual imposition is a third degree misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in the county jail and up to a $500 fine. In addition to possible jail time and a fine, there is a VERY SERIOUS additional consequence of being convicted of sexual imposition: A Sexual Imposition conviction carries with it a Tier 1 Sex Offender Registration requirement. If you are convicted of Sexual Imposition, you will be required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement for 15 years.
Therefore, pleading guilty to Sexual Imposition is a BAD IDEA. Unless the alternative is something far more serious, such as a Rape conviction, pleading guilty to Sexual Imposition is generally not advisable and should NEVER be done at arraignment or without representation by a criminal defense attorney.
Common Scenarios of Sexual Imposition
In what circumstances do we usually find sexual imposition charges brought? Commonly it is when someone is unwantedly “groped”: either in a public place such as a stairwell, or when cornered at a party, or any time someone is inappropriately grabbed, slapped, or touched.
The lines often get blurred when it happens between teenagers or young adults, usually when two people are sharing a bed or couch.
Common Defenses to Sexual Imposition
There are several common ways to defend an accusation of sexual imposition:
1. Focus on the idea that the touching was not for the purpose of sexual gratification.
2. Focus on the idea that the touching occurred with consent, which is a far more complicated defense than one might suspect.
3. The last defense is a little unique. A person cannot be convicted of Sexual Imposition solely upon the victim’s testimony unsupported by other evidence. This means that if there is no other evidence that this happened other than someone claiming that it did, there can be no conviction.
These defenses are subtle and as a result require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What Should I Do If I Am Charged with Sexual Imposition?
If you have been charged or think that you may be charged with Sexual Imposition follow these steps: 1. DO NOT provide a statement to law enforcement
2. DO NOT communicate with anyone else (via talking, texting, social media, etc.) about what happened
3. If you have already talked, STOP TALKING
4. CONTACT a criminal defense attorney
5. Plead NOT GUILTY at arraignment
Ohio Revised Code Section §2907.06
(A) No person shall have sexual contact with another, not the spouse of the offender; cause another, not the spouse of the offender, to have sexual contact with the offender; or cause two or more other persons to have sexual contact when any of the following applies:
(1) The offender knows that the sexual contact is offensive to the other person, or one of the other persons, or is reckless in that regard.
(2) The offender knows that the other person's, or one of the other person's, ability to appraise the nature of or control the offender's or touching person's conduct is substantially impaired.
(3) The offender knows that the other person, or one of the other persons, submits because of being unaware of the sexual contact.
(4) The other person, or one of the other persons, is thirteen years of age or older but less than sixteen years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of such person, and the offender is at least eighteen years of age and four or more years older than such other person.
(5) The offender is a mental health professional, the other person or one of the other persons is a mental health client or patient of the offender, and the offender induces the other person who is the client or patient to submit by falsely representing to the other person who is the client or patient that the sexual contact is necessary for mental health treatment purposes.
(B) No person shall be convicted of a violation of this section solely upon the victim's testimony unsupported by other evidence.
(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of sexual imposition, a misdemeanor of the third degree. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of this section or of section 2907.02, 2907.03, 2907.04, or 2907.05, or former section 2907.12 of the Revised Code, a violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to three or more violations of this section or section 2907.02, 2907.03, 2907.04, or 2907.05, or former section 2907.12 of the Revised Code, or of any combination of those sections, a violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree and, notwithstanding the range of jail terms prescribed in section 2929.24 of the Revised Code, the court may impose on the offender a definite jail term of not more than one year.