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Types of Sex Crimes

Core Offenses That Qualify

Sex crimes tend to get characterized into a series of categories broken down by the victims. It’s important to keep in mind that offenses do not always belong in a single category. Depending on the people involved, there can be some overlap in terms of what qualifies as a crime.

Image of man with hands handcuffed behind him after possible sex crime

The exact definitions of the crimes in question can also vary depending on the state where the crime occurred. As such, it’s important to consult with a legal professional with knowledge about a state’s laws regarding sexual crimes and offenses.

Adults as Victims

To start with, sex crimes committed by adults against other adults tend to be categorized as sexual assault and rape. While those terms sound like they could be interchangeable, it’s important to keep in mind they can be two separate crimes. To qualify as sexual assault, the person initiating the act does so through physical harm or threats to the victim. Rape, on the other hand, tends to be defined as a sexually penetrative act that occurs without the victim’s consent.

An adult can also suffer from some of the other offenses listed in this article. Never assume that aid will be unavailable because of a perceived lack of qualification. When in doubt, seek help immediately.


Also referred to by the term sex offenses against minors, sexual crimes against children tend to be viewed by law enforcement and society as a more severe offense given the victim’s age. Crimes like abduction, molestation, and exploitation generally tend to occur in cases involving minors, but unfortunately, overlap exists for this category, too.


Sexual offenses against relatives do not carry an age limit. While the crimes will be viewed differently by law enforcement if the victim is a minor, any person can suffer sexual offenses like incest, assault, and rape.

In very general terms, the Adults/Children/Relatives categories have the most overlap since sex crimes tend to be perpetrated by people the victim knows and trusts. That’s not to say sex crimes only exist within close-knit social circles, but that fact can make it harder for the victims to feel safe about coming forward and talking about the offenses committed against them.

Nature (Exposure and Bestiality)

Something of an outlier compared to the other categories, crimes against nature generally refer to cases involving exposure and bestiality.

It should be noted here that exposure charges tend to occur when the accused willingly exposes themselves to others. If your pants were to suddenly fall down to your ankles through no fault or intention of your own, it would be difficult for anyone to claim you exposed yourself to them as a crime.

That does not mean, however, that anyone has the right to appear in public without clothes, even if they genuinely have no intention of committing a legal offense.

Other Offenses

All convicted sex offenders are legally required to register with state law enforcement; failure to do so counts as another sex offense. Federal sex offenses include crossing state lines with the intent of engaging in unlawful sexual offenses, sexual crimes committed against minors, and the creation and/or distribution of materials considered to be unlawful as pornography. Obviously sex crimes are taken seriously and having a sex crime conviction can have a long-lasting effect on your relationships, your schooling or career path, and your reputation If you have been accused of such a crime, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you rigorously against such charges. David L. Clarke, a Murfreesboro TN criminal defense attorney, has experience in criminal defense cases and is ready to help you if you have been accused or charged with a sex crime.

To find out more, contact The Clarke Law Firm today.