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Texas adopts broad definition of sexual assault

Law enforcement officials in most cities do everything they can to lower statistics for major crimes. In Dallas, there is one crime that law enforcement believes has been underreported, and they are doing all they can to make those numbers rise. That crime is sexual assault.

Dallas has put quite a bit of effort into trying to get sexual assault and rape victims to come forward and report the crimes. Help came in a semantic fashion when the city ditched its antiquated definition of what constitutes rape and adopted the Federal Bureau of Investigation's broader definition. The old definition defined rape as a forcible act perpetrated by an adult male on an adult female. The new definition includes male-on-male rape and a variety of other sexual crimes.

The results are in, and the apparent number of rapes on the books is 34 higher than normal. This is not to say that sexual assaults are on the rise in Dallas, but any crime that constitutes an act of forcible and unwanted penetration is now being included as a rape crime.

The statistics seen in Dallas are not necessarily normal. In Garland, there has been no marked increase in rape statistics. Plano, a Dallas suburb that is tracking statistics under both the old and the new definition, has seen a large decrease in reported sexual assaults.

While it may be too early to say what the long-term effects are of this change of definition, law enforcement officials in Dallas ensure the public that the goal is to make sure that crimes are reported properly and perpetrators are punished for their crimes.

Those accused of certain types of sexual assault may be in for a surprise. What was once a simple assault charge might now be classified as rape, which may or may not have an impact on the sentences levied. Anyone who is charged with a crime of a sexual nature should retain legal counsel to be sure that the right charges are levied as the courts come to grips with this new change.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Dallas sexual-assault reports rise after definition is broadened" Tristan Hallman, Apr. 23, 2014

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