Sexual assault

Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.3
Effective from: 01 April 2014

Triable either way

Maximum: 10 years’ custody

Offence range: Community order – 7 years’ custody

For convictions on or after 3 December 2012 (irrespective of the date of commission of the offence), this is a specified offence for the purposes of section 226A (extended sentence for certain violent or sexual offences) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

User guide for this offence

Step 1 – Determining the offence category

The court should determine which categories of harm and culpability the offence falls into by reference only to the tables below.


Category 1
  • Severe psychological or physical harm
  • Abduction
  • Violence or threats of violence
  • Forced/uninvited entry into victim’s home
Category 2
  • Touching of naked genitalia or naked breasts
  • Prolonged detention/sustained incident
  • Additional degradation/humiliation
  • Victim is particularly vulnerable due to personal circumstances [1]
Category 3
  • Factor(s) in categories 1 and 2 not present



  • Significant degree of planning
  • Offender acts together with others to commit the offence
  • Use of alcohol/drugs on victim to facilitate the offence
  • Abuse of trust
  • Previous violence against victim
  • Offence committed in course of burglary
  • Recording of offence
  • Commercial exploitation and/or motivation
  • Offence racially or religiously aggravated
  • Offence motivated by, or demonstrating, hostility to the victim based on his or her sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) or transgender identity (or presumed transgender identity)
  • Offence motivated by, or demonstrating, hostility to the victim based on his or her disability (or presumed disability)


  • Factor(s) in category A not present

  [1] for children under 13 please refer to the guideline for Sexual Assault of a Child Under 13