The Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

Crimes of a sexual nature are considered especially heinous, carry a stigma, and are penalized swiftly and harshly by the criminal justice system. However, sexual assault should not be confused with sexual harassment. While sexual assault is a criminal offense, sexual harassment is a civil matter. The bottom line is that while you might lose your job over a sexual harassment accusation, you could lose your freedom as well as your reputation if you are charged with rape or sexual assault.

What constitutes sexual harassment in Texas?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers sexual harassment when it occurs at any U.S. company that has 15 or more employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

Besides being a civil, not criminal matter, sexual harassment differs from sexual assault in that it:

  • Occurs in a professional setting
  • Is dealt with through a hearing with the EEOC not a criminal court
  • Allows the victim to file a civil suit for damages (especially for retaliatory firing)
  • Consent is not as relevant since no “forcible sexual act” is involved

There are three types of sexual harassment:

  • Unwanted sexual attention
  • Gender harassment
  • Quid pro quo harassment

If you are unsure if your case involves sexual assault or sexual harassment, consult with a knowledgeable criminal law attorney.

Sexual assault

In Texas, sexual assault occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly penetrates the mouth or private parts of another person without their consent. The main elements of sexual assault are intent, penetration, and lack of consent. When prosecuted as a second-degree felony, the penalties are 2-20 years in the state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. However, certain factors, such as the victim’s age, can elevate the crime to a first-degree felony.If police arrest you in Texas for any of these sex crimes, seek competent legal help at once:

  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape

Not only do you face substantial prison time, you will have to register as a sex offender. Such a label can have dire consequences on your personal and professional life and even affect where you are able to live and work. Only a talented criminal law attorney in Kingwood can review your arrest and determine the optimal path forward for your case.

Seek aggressive criminal law counsel from an experienced Kingwood attorney

The Law Office of Andrew J. Williams understands the seriousness of the charges against you. With more than two decades of criminal defense experience, we have the knowledge and skill to handle the most difficult cases. Contact our firm online or call 281-358-9111 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Andrew Williams, an experienced attorney who can challenge evidence in a DWI case
About the Author: Andrew Williams
I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.