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What is a First Degree Sex Offense in North Carolina?

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Answered by: Kevin M. Marcilliat

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There are generally two types of first degree sex offense. A first degree forcible sex offense is when a person engages in a sexual act with another by force and against the will of the other person with one of three aggravating factors. A sex offense occurs when the accused engages in a sexual act other than vaginal intercourse by force and against the will of the other person.  Vaginal intercourse by force and against the will of the other person usually falls under a rape statute. Examples of a sex offense could include oral penetration or digital penetration of the other person’s genitalia. “Force” refers to the manner in which the other person is made to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, not the sexual act itself. Actual, physical force is usually not required, and it can be sufficient to find a person guilty if the other person is forced by threat, fear, or duress. Evidence of physical resistance is not necessary to prove the sexual act was against the will of the other person. If the sexual act is begun consensually and the other person withdraws consent, no sex offense may have occurred. 

The forcible sexual act against the other person’s will becomes a first degree sex offense generally under three sets of circumstances. First, when the accused uses a dangerous weapon during the commission of a sexual offense, such as forcing the other person to engage in the sexual act with a firearm. Second, if the accused inflicts serious injury upon the other person while committing the sex offense, in many states it will rise to the level of a first degree sex offense. When the sex offense is aided by one or more individuals, that, too, is often elevated to a first degree sex offense. The specific circumstances leading to first degree forcible sex offense may vary from state to state.

A second type of first degree sex offense usually depends on the age of the other person. For instance, in North Carolina when a person engages in a sexual act with another person who is a child under the age of 13 years and the accused is at least 12 years old and is at least four years older than the other person, a first degree sex offense has occurred. 

This charge requires registration with the sex offender registry.

Read more: Forcible Sex Offense Charges And Penalties in North Carolina 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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