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New York Penal Code § 130.20: Sexual Misconduct

New York Penal Code § 130.20: Sexual Misconduct

There are a number of sex crimes outlined in state and federal guidelines. One of these is sexual misconduct. New York’s Penal Code explains sexual misconduct in section 130.20. Anyone who engages in any of the following behaviors has committed an act of sexual misconduct:

  • Engaging in sexual intercourse with an individual without first obtaining the consent of that person
  • Engaging in anal or oral sex with an individual without first obtaining consent
  • Engaging in sexual behavior with a corpse or animal

New York’s Penal Code also outlines definitions of what “anal sexual conduct,” “oral sexual conduct,” and “sexual intercourse” mean.

For sexual intercourse, the meaning is ordinary. Intercourse occurs when a penis penetrates a vagina. Even if the penetration wasn’t completed, any form of penetration can be counted as sexual intercourse when leveling a sexual misconduct charge. This is also true for other sex offenses that require intercourse to take place.

Oral sexual conduct is a reference to a person’s mouth sexually contacting another person’s anus, penis, vulva, or vagina. For anal sexual conduct to have taken place, there must have been contact between the anus and the penis.

Example of Sexual Misconduct

A 25-year-old man might put his mouth on a 15-year-old girl’s vagina and breasts. When this is the case, there wasn’t legal consent. The girl was not old enough to give legal consent. This means that the man is liable to be prosecuted for engaging in sexual misconduct.


One of the most common defenses is proving that the accuser gave consent for the sex act to happen. In some cases, even if there’s no proof that the accuser consented, you can provide proof that you had a reasonable belief there was consent. Such a belief might provide a defense against sexual misconduct charges. With that said, this defense isn’t applicable if consent was outside the victim’s capacity.

The statute of limitations can provide another potential defense. In New York, the statute of limitations on sexual misconduct charges bars you from being prosecuted if it’s been more than 2 years since the event. It’s important to note, however, that if the accuser was underage when the incident occurred, the statute of limitations is a little more complex. The clock will not begin running out until the accuser turns 18, or until law enforcement is informed of the incident.


Under New York law, sexual misconduct is classified as a class A misdemeanor. This is the most serious type of misdemeanor. The maximum sentence a person might receive is one year in jail. If there is no prior criminal record, a person may be sentenced to 6 years of probation instead.

No matter whether you receive probation or jail time, if you’re convicted of this offense, you have to register your sex offense for at least 20 years. Oftentimes, you’ll be registered as a sex offender for your entire life.

If You’re Accused

Like all sex crimes, there are far reaching consequences to both a charge and a conviction of sexual misconduct. The charge will also affect those around you, particularly your family members.

Sexual misconduct charges are complicated. If you’ve been accused of sexual misconduct, it’s important to get in contact with an experienced attorney. Your attorney will review the facts of the case and help you understand your options. There may be potential defenses that only they understand.

When you’ve been accused of sexual misconduct, you’re probably dealing with a lot of heightened emotions and worries. An attorney is not emotionally involved in the situation, so they can often offer a more rational perspective.

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