In Progress
Lesson 1, Topic 77
In Progress

Sexual Assault

This offence has a vast scope and covers all non-penetrative sexual offences. Thus, it includes any violation of sexual nature from non-consensual penile penetration to non-consensual non-penetration to the least serious offence of non-consensual sexual touching. Sexual assault is defined in section 3(1) of the 2003 Act :

“A person (A) commits an offence if –

  1. he intentionally touches another person (B),
  2. the touching is sexual,
  3. B does not consent to the touching, and
  4. A does not reasonably believe that B consents.”

Actus Reus: (a) Sexual touching; and (b) Absence of B’s consent

Mens Rea: (a) Intentional touching; and (b) A lacks a reasonable belief in B’s consent

The new element in this offence if that of ‘touching’, which is defined in section 79(8) of SOA 2003:

“Touching includes touching –

  • with any part of the body,
  • with anything else,
  • through anything.”

Due to the nature of the offence, a victim does not necessarily need to be aware that they are being touched (see R v Bounekhla [2006] EWCA Crim 1217). Also, a defendant may be guilty of the offence for touching the victim’s clothes, rather than the victim themselves, as demonstrated in R v H [2005].