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C.G.S. § 53-72a – Sexual Assault in the Third Degree


Sexual Assault in the Third Degree Under C.G.S. § 53-72a sexual assault in the third degree, it is a crime to have sexual contact with the intimate parts of another person by force or by a threat of force. This law classifies unwanted forceful touching that is motivated by sexual gratification as a form of sexual assault when the contact is made with an intimate area of the body. This crime is more serious than a regular assault because the law treats this form of assault more like rape and less like an assault. Offenders who are convicted of sexual assault in the third-degree face serve consequences, including having felony records and usually have to participate in sex offender probation and registration.

This statute also covers the very rarely charged crime of consensual incest or having sexual intercourse with someone with whom you are related. Under Connecticut law, it is illegal to have sexual intercourse with your stepdaughter or other blood relatives.

Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The State

There are two different situations that this statute covers, and the penalty for this offense varies based upon the age of the victim. To be found guilty of a violation of C.G.S. § 53-72a, the prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements of the offense:

Two different situations possible:

C.G.S. § 53-72a(a)(1)

  1. The defendant compels another to engage in sexual contact; and
  2. uses force or threatens the use of force.

Sexual contact means any contact with the intimate bodily areas of the victim for sexual gratification or to degrade the victim.


C.G.S. § 53-72a(a)(2)

The defendant has sexual intercourse with an individual who is related to you, such as your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, and stepdaughter.


A man is on a first date with a woman he met online. One the way home from sharing a drink, the man stops his car and tries to grab the woman's breast. The woman tries to fight him off but is unable to do so. The man grabs her breast before the woman screams and then runs off. The man could be charged with sexual assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53-72a because he forcibly touched an intimate area of the woman's body. Because the woman was over the age of 16, the crime would be a Class D felony.

A man is doing landscaping work on a home when he sees a 15-year-old girl sunbathing by the pool. The man walks over the girl, engages her in small talk, and then starts trying to grab her vaginal area. The girl is fighting him off, but the man succeeds in putting his hands on the outside of her bathing suit, touching her vagina. The girl yells and kicks the man in his balls and runs away and calls the police. The man could be found guilty of sexual assault in the third degree because he had forcibly touched the intimate areas of the girl. Because the girl was under the age of 16, the man would be charged with a more severe Class C felony. The man could also be charged with risk of injury to a minor.

A man has consensual sexual intercourse with his aunt. They both could be charged with sexual assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53-72a(a)(2).

Related Offenses
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53-21(a) – Risk of Injury to a Minor
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-73a – Sexual Assault in the Fourth Degree
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-71 – Sexual Assault in the First Degree
Defenses to Connecticut General Statutes C.G.S. § 53-72a – Sexual Assault in the Third Degree

Because with this crime, there is often no physical trauma or injures, and there is no semen left behind, it is an allegation that is often subject to a lot of false accusations. Many clients have been wrongfully accused of this crime by victims with ulterior motivations such as jealousy, anger, or revenge.

Another area of abuse with this offense is when a victim seemingly willing participates in sexual contact later claims that she was forced to participate employing a threat. These kinds of threats are very hard to prove and are typically a he said/she said situation.

Given the serious reputational consequences that come along with a conviction for this offense, such as sex offender probation, and registration many clients are reluctant to accept plea bargains, which will brand them as rapists in the eyes of the community. For these reasons, many of these cases go to trial.

The accelerated rehabilitation program is available as a resource to resolve these allegations for first-time offenders and who have not utilized the accelerated rehabilitation program in the last ten years. The benefit of a diversionary program like AR is that it would result in the dismissal of all charges against you without having to face the risk of going to trial. The problem with using the accelerated rehabilitation program with sex crimes is that often alleged victims may be very opposed to the use of a diversionary program. Anyone charged with a sex crime should immediately consult with an experienced Connecticut criminal lawyer before they speak to the police or take any action.


The penalties for a violation of C.G.S. § 53-72a range in severity based on the age of the alleged victim.

C.G.S. § 53-72a(1) is a Class D Felony punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

C.G.S. § 53-72a(2) is a Class C felony punishable by up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Criminal Defense for Sexual Assault in the Third Degree

If you been accused of a sexual assault in violation of C.G.S. § 53-72a, you should immediately consult an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer. It is imperative that you speak with an attorney before you make any statements to the police. Remember that you have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer any questions without first speaking with an attorney. Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman has over 30 years of experience defending sex crime allegations. Attorney Friedman will fight to obtain the most favorable result possible.

For more information about defending sex crime allegations in violation of C.G.S. § 53-72a, contact Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman at The Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman to arrange your free, no-obligation, initial consultation. Our offices are located at 1100 Summer St #306, Stamford, CT 06905. Mr. Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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