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What Is Sexual Assault? . What Is a SART? . How Did SARTs Evolve?
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Defining Sexual Assault Nationally

Federal Criminal Code

Federal and nonfederal courts coexist in separate, yet highly related judicial systems. Statutory powers not expressly given to the U.S. Government are retained by the states. Federal criminal jurisdiction can occur when sexual assaults take place on federal land (e.g., American Indian reservations, national parks) and for sexual assaults that have interstate or international components (e.g., kidnapping cases, assaults on cruise ships).

The Federal Criminal Code defines sexual abuse by the degree of force or threat of force used:

  • Aggravated sexual abuse includes circumstances when a person knowingly causes another person to engage in a sexual act or attempts to do so by using force or threatening a person with death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping. Aggravated sexual abuse also includes situations in which a person knowingly renders another person unconscious or administers a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance without the knowledge or permission of that person and engages in a sexual act.
  • Abusive sexual contact takes place when no sexual penetration actually occurs but when intentional touching of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks is used to abuse, humiliate, or harass another person.