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Sentencing procedures in regards to sexual assault cases

After a person has been convicted of sexual assault in Massachusetts, the next phase of the process is sentencing. A judge will rely on a number of factors in order to determine an appropriate sentence. The first step in determining punishment is to look at the criminal statute that the defendant was convicted under. This statute includes a minimum and maximum punishment, which could typically include a prison term and/or fine. Additionally, a person convicted of sexual assault may be required to register as a sex offender. Massachusetts categorizes sexual assault into two groups: indecent assault and battery and aggravated sexual assault. Aggravated sexual assault is typically charged when the victim requires medical attention. Otherwise, the crime is usually charged as indecent assault and battery. Aggravated sexual assault is associated with a harsher sentence. When the judge determines an appropriate sentence, they will also consider any aggravating or mitigating factors. Aggravating factors include a prior conviction or violence during the commission of the act. Mitigating factors include any information that supports a more lenient sentence, such as the defendant being victimized as a child. If the defendant is prosecuted under federal law, the federal sentencing guidelines apply. When using federal sentencing guidelines, the judge evaluates several factors, including prior criminal history and whether the defendant accepted responsibility for the crime. Under federal law, the defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and the requirement to compensate the victim for their medical expenses. Individuals who have been sexually assaulted may choose to contact a lawyer to inquire about filing a civil lawsuit. The attorney could assess the case and the viability for civil recovery. Source: Findlaw, Massachusetts Sexual Assault Laws, Accessed Sept. 14, 2016

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