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Understanding Gross Sexual Imposition Charges in Ohio 

Wolfe Law Group, LLC Aug. 12, 2022

In Ohio, even touching the private parts of another without their knowledge or consent is a crime known as sexual imposition. Depending on circumstances, this can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.  

The litmus test between the misdemeanor and the felony is generally whether the offender used threats or force, drugs or alcohol, or took advantage of someone who is “substantially impaired” as a result of a physical condition or age. Doing so rises to the level of gross sexual imposition, which is a felony. 

A charge of sexual or gross sexual imposition is not something to be taken lightly. A prison term of up to five years can be the result, to say nothing of the devastation it will do to your personal life, your career, and your reputation. You will also have a criminal record attached to your name going forward, jeopardizing job prospects, professional licensing, leasing or buying a home, and receiving public benefits. You will also be required to register as a Tier I or Tier II sex offender. 

If you are facing a sexual or gross sexual imposition investigation or charge in or around Columbus, Ohio, contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Wolfe Law Group, LLC. They will provide you and your case with the personalized, individualized attention it deserves and strive to resolve matters with the best possible outcome. 

The Wolfe Law Group, LLC also proudly serves clients in Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, Hilliard. Surrounding counties: Licking County, Newark, Heath, Granville, Fairfield County, Lancaster, Pickerington, Delaware County, City of Delaware, Louis Center, and Powell. 

What Is Sexual Imposition? 

Ohio law defines sexual imposition as “sexual contact with another,” even one’s spouse when any of certain factors are involved: 

  • The offender knows the sexual contact is offensive to the other person, or is reckless in that regard 

  • The offender knows the other person’s ability to appraise the situation or exert control is impaired 

  • The offender proceeds by knowing the other person will be unaware of the contact 

  • The other person is at least 13 years old but less than 16, whether the offender knows the age or not, and the offender is at least 18 years of age or four or more years older than the other person 

  • The offender is a mental health professional and the victim is a patient who is led to believe the sexual contact is part of the mental health treatment regimen 

Sexual contact includes female breasts, buttocks, thighs, and the pubic area. Sexual contact can also extend to other areas for those who seek sexual gratification with different body parts, including the neck, scalp, earlobe, feet, and more. 

What Is Gross Sexual Imposition? 

Gross sexual imposition goes beyond merely taking advantage of a situation and involves force, coercion, drugs or alcohol, or the victim being less than 13 years of age. The differentiating factors between sexual imposition and gross sexual imposition include any of these: 

  • The use of force or coercion 

  • The offender administers any drug, intoxicant, or controlled substance that impairs the judgment or control of the other person 

  • The offender knows the other person is substantially impaired judgment- and control-wise because of mental or age conditions 

  • The other person is less than 13 years old 

  • The offender is a medical professional who administers a drug or anesthesia to the other person who believes it is being administered for sound medical or dental reasons 

Possible Penalties 

Sexual imposition is a third-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. You must also register as a Tier I sex offender for 15 years. 

Gross sexual imposition is a fourth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. You will also have to register as a sex offender for 15 years. If, however, the gross sexual imposition was carried out on someone younger than 13, or drugs or alcohol were used in committing the crime, the charge rises to a third-degree felony, with a prison term of 1 to 5 years. You will also have to register as a Tier II sex offender for 25 years. 

What You Shouldn’t Do If Charged or Accused 

This one is simple on the surface: Stay quiet and secure the services of experienced criminal defense counsel immediately before talking to police or prosecutors. Remember what the Miranda Rights warning says about talking: “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Other than affirming your identity to officials, wait until you have legal representation before answering any questions.  

Unfortunately, most people’s instincts are to fight for their rights and their innocence. Instead, let your criminal defense attorney protect your rights for you. Anything you say before your attorney is present can come back to haunt you. 

Possible Defenses 

A strong defensive ally lies in the Ohio Code itself, which bars conviction based solely on the victim’s testimony. There must be other evidence submitted to corroborate the charge. Any evidence submitted can, of course, be challenged by defense counsel as to admissibility and/or relevance. 

Attorneys Who Fight for Your Rights 

The criminal defense attorneys at the Wolfe Law Group, LLC have established solid relationships throughout the law enforcement and justice system in and around Columbus, Ohio. As skilled advocates, their team will evaluate the circumstances of the charge against you and develop a strategy going forward aimed at the best result possible. Contact the firm immediately if you are under investigation for or facing charges of gross sexual imposition in Columbus or surrounding areas in Ohio.