Violence against Women Act Terms and Definitions and D.C. Codes and Statutes regarding Sexual Offenses, Stalking, and Domestic Violence

D.C. Code Definitions and Statutes

Sexual Assault
The District of Columbia criminal law does not define the term "sexual assault", as such. However, the District of Columbia has defined crimes known as sexual abuse. The crimes distinguish between sexual acts and sexual contacts. The specified meaning of those terms is set forth below.

Sexual act means:

  1. The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva of another by a penis;
  2. Contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus; or
  3. The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Sexual contact means the touching with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3002)
A person commits First Degree Sexual Abuse if that person engages in or causes another person to engage in or submit to a sexual act in the following manner:

  1. By using force against that other person;
  2. By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury or kidnapping;
  3. After rendering that other person unconscious; or
  4. After administering to that other person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that other person, a drug, intoxicant or other similar substance that substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control his or her conduct.

Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree (D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3003)
A person commits Second Degree Sexual Abuse if that person engages in or causes another person to engage in or submit to a sexual act in the following manner:

  1. By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping); or
  2. Where the person knows or has reason to know that the other person is:
    1. Incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct;
    2. Incapable of declining participation in that sexual act; or
    3. Incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual act.

Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree (D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3004)
A person commits sexual abuse in the third degree if that person engages in or causes sexual contact with or by another person in the following manner:

  1. By using force against that other person;
  2. By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping;
  3. After rendering that person unconscious; or
  4. After administering to that person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that other person, a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance that substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control his or her conduct.

Sexual Abuse in the Fourth Degree (D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3005)
A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the fourth degree, if that person engages in or causes sexual contact with or by another person in the following manner:

  1. By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping); or
  2. Where the person knows or has reason to know that the other person is:
    1. Incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct;
    2. Incapable of declining participation in that sexual contact; or
    3. Incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual contact.

Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse (D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3006)
Whoever engages in a sexual act or sexual contact with another person and who should have knowledge or reason to know that the act was committed without that other person's permission, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse.

Consent
Consent means words or overt actions indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual act or contact in question. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission by the victim, resulting from the use of force, threats or coercion by the defendant shall not constitute consent. Consent is a defense to sexual abuse (in the 1st through the 4th degree) and misdemeanor sexual abuse.

Domestic Violence
In the District of Columbia, domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner, dating partner, or family member. The term "domestic violence" includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This consists of any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.

The District of Columbia also defines domestic violence by reference to the terms intimate partner violence and IntraFamily Violence.

The term intimate partner violence means "an act punishable as a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed by an offender upon a person:

  1. To whom the offender is or was married;
  2. With whom the offender is or was in a domestic partnership; or
  3. With whom the offender is or was in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship."

The term intrafamily violence means "an act punishable as a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed by an offender upon a person to whom the offender is related by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership or with whom the offender has a child in common."

Dating Violence
The District of Columbia does not define the term dating violence, as such. However, reference is made to dating relationships and other intimate relationships in the definition of domestic violence. Accordingly, dating violence is a form of domestic violence.

Dating violence can be properly defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any romantic, dating, intimate or sexual relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner or dating partner. The term "dating violence" includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This consists of any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.

Stalking
The act of stalking occurs when a person purposefully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific individual with the intent to cause that individual to:

  1. Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;
  2. Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or
  3. Suffer emotional distress;

Such conduct constitutes the crime of stalking if that the person knows the conduct would cause that individual reasonably to:

  1. Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;
  2. Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or
  3. Suffer emotional distress.

Such conduct constitutes the crime of stalking if the person should have known the conduct would cause a reasonable person in the individual's circumstances to

  1. Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;
  2. Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or
  3. Suffer emotional distress.

"To engage in a course of conduct" means directly or indirectly, or through one or more third persons, in person or by any means, on 2 or more occasions, to:

  1. Follow, monitor, place under surveillance, threaten, or communicate to or about another individual;
  2. Interfere with, damage, take, or unlawfully enter an individual's real or personal property or threaten or attempt to do so; or
  3. Use another individual's personal identifying information.

Definitions and Terms:  Violence Against Women Act (from 42 USC § 13925) and The Clery Center for Security on Campus

Domestic violence:
The term "domestic violence" includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed:

  • by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
  • by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
  • by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
  • by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime or violence occurred;
  • by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime or violence occurred.

Dating violence:
The term "dating violence" means violence committed by a person:

(A) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and
(B) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

a. The length of the relationship
b. The type of relationship
c. The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

For the purposes of this definition, dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

Stalking:
The term "stalking" means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

(A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others: or
(B) suffer substantial emotional distress

For the purposes of this definition, course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person's property. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Sexual Assault:
The term "sexual assault" is an offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest or statutory rape.

Sex Offenses:
The term "sex offenses" means any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

  • Rape - The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
  • Fondling - The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental capacity.
  • Incest - Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
  • Statutory Rape - Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.


EFFECTIVE DATE: JUNE 30, 2015
UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 4, 2015