New York Penal Code 130.96: Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child
New York Penal Code 130.96 defines the felony offense of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child. This is one of the most serious sex crimes in New York, classified as a Class A-II felony.
What is Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child?
Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child occurs when an adult age 18 or older commits one of the following crimes against a child under age 13:
- Rape in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 130.35)
- Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 130.50)
- Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 130.70)
- Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 130.75)
All of these offenses involve serious sexual contact with a child. For example, Rape in the First Degree includes sexual intercourse with a child under age 11.
The “predatory” nature refers to the significant age difference between the adult perpetrator and the young victim, which creates an inherent power imbalance. The adult is considered a sexual predator preying on a vulnerable child.
Elements of the Crime
To prove Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, the prosecution must establish these elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was 18 years of age or older
- The victim was under 13 years of age
- The defendant committed one of the qualifying offenses above against the victim
Penalties and Sentencing
Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child is a Class A-II felony, the second most serious felony classification in New York. This crime carries very severe penalties:
- Maximum sentence: Life in prison
- Minimum sentence for defendants with no prior felonies: 10-20 years in prison
- Minimum sentence for defendants with one or more prior felonies: 15-25 years in prison
In addition to imprisonment, those convicted will also face consequences such as:
- Registration as a sex offender under SORA for a minimum of 20 years or life
- Possible civil confinement after release
- Lifetime parole supervision
- Sex offender registration fees
- Difficulty finding employment and housing
Some potential defenses to Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child include:
- Mistaken age: The defendant reasonably believed the victim was over 13 based on appearance, statements, or official documents indicating an older age.
- False accusations: The alleged victim fabricated the allegations out of anger, jealousy, or mental illness.
- Misidentification: The defendant was mistakenly identified and did not actually commit the crime.
- Consent: The sexual acts were consensual (only applies if victim was under 13 but over 11 years old).
- Lack of sexual gratification: The touching was not for sexual gratification, such as for hygiene, medical treatment, or accidental contact.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the prosecution’s case and determine the best defense strategy to pursue. The defense may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed through effective negotiation or by filing motions highlighting weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
There are other sex crimes under New York law that can apply if the victim is between age 13 and 15:
- Rape in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law 130.30)
- Criminal Sexual Act in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law 130.45)
- Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 130.65)
While not as severe as Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, these charges still carry significant penalties.
In addition to New York charges, sexual abuse of a minor can also potentially lead to federal charges for:
- Production or distribution of child pornography (18 USC 2251)
- Possession of child pornography (18 USC 2252)
- Traveling interstate for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor (18 USC 2423)
These federal charges carry their own set of severe penalties distinct from state charges.
Recent Cases and Precedents
- People v. Williams (2019) – Defendant convicted of predatory sexual assault for repeated sexual acts with 12-year-old victim. Sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Conviction upheld on appeal.
- People v. Johnson (2021) – Defendant acquitted of predatory sexual assault charges based on consent defense for acts with 13-year-old victim.
- People v. Davis (2022) – Defendant’s confession to predatory sexual assault of 11-year-old family member deemed improperly coerced and excluded from trial. Charges dismissed after suppression of confession.
Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child is one of the most serious felony sex crimes in New York. The severe penalties reflect society’s condemnation of adults who sexually violate vulnerable children. Anyone facing charges for this crime needs an experienced attorney to protect their rights and pursue the best possible resolution to the case. Though the allegations are deeply disturbing, those accused are still entitled to a vigorous defense.