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NY Penal Law § 130.55: Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree

Sexual abuse in the third degree is one of three sexual abuse offenses defined in New York law. It is the least severe sexual abuse crime. Under New York Penal Code section 130.55 you will face this charge if you subject another person to sexual contact without that person's consent. It is a class B misdemeanor. Even though it is a misdemeanor and not a felony, sexual abuse is still a sex crime.

In order for you to be charged with sexual abuse in the third degree, you must have subjected the other person to "sexual contact." Unlike sexual intercourse sexual contact does not require the penis to penetrate the vagina. And unlike the crime of criminal sexual act, the crime of sexual abuse does not require anal sexual conduct or oral sexual conduct. It requires the touching of the sexual or intimate parts of another person for sexual gratification. Sexual or intimate parts are not specifically defined in the statute. However, defendants have been convicted of sexual abuse after touching another person's vagina, penis, anus, rectum, buttocks, breasts, lips and mouth. Ejaculating on another person is also a form of sexual contact.


A man who was a passenger on a subway train was observed by two plain-clothes police officers positioning himself behind a woman in a crowded subway car. He bent his knees until his pelvis was even with the woman's buttocks. He then thrust his groin against the woman, using the motion of the train to move back and forth. When the police arrested him they observed that the man had an erection and that he had a wet stain on the groin area of his pants. This man could be prosecuted for sexual abuse in the third because not only did he touch an intimate part of the victim- her buttocks, he also ejaculated. This defendant could also face a charge of forcible touching under New York Penal Code section 130.52.

Related Offenses
  1. Sexual misconduct: New York Penal Code section 130.20
  2. Forcible touching: New York Penal Code section 130.52

As with any sex crime there may be defenses that could help your case. For example, if you can show that the sexual contact was consensual or accidental then you have a valid defense. There may be other defenses available based on the specific facts of your case.


Because sexual abuse in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor, if you are convicted the maximum possible sentence that you will receive is 3 months in jail. Your sentence could also include a probation term of 6 years.

Even though it is a class B misdemeanor, sexual abuse in the third degree is a registrable offense under the New York Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). After you are sentenced you must register certain personal information with a designated law enforcement agency which will keep the information in a sex offender database. A hearing will be held to determine your sex offender risk level: Level 1, 2 or 3. This hearing is critical because if you are determined to be a Level 1 offender you will have to register for 20 years. Otherwise, you will have to register for the rest of your life.

New York Penal Code section 130.55: Sexual abuse in the third degree

A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the third degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact without the latter's consent; except that in any prosecution under this section, it is an affirmative defense that (a) such other person`s lack of consent was due solely to incapacity to consent by reason of being less than seventeen years old, and (b) such other person was more than fourteen years old, and (c) the defendant was less than five years older than such other person.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though sexual abuse in the third degree is a misdemeanor, it is still a crime and it is still a sex offense. A conviction will cause many aspects of your life to become much more difficult, including your family relationships and your career. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with sex crimes such as aggravated sexual abuse, criminal sexual act in the first degree as well as other sex crimes such as sexual misconduct, criminal sexual act, forcible touching, sexual abuse, sexual conduct against child, female genital mutilation, and facilitating a sexual offense with a controlled substance. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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