Georgia State Laws

This page contains Georgia state laws for sexual offenses.  However, someone may feel that the legal definitions of sexual offenses in the Georgia Code are not inclusive and/or supportive of their experiences. Therefore, the university conduct process operates independently of the criminal justice system. Should a student wish to pursue a case through the Office of Judicial Education, there are separate policies and procedures in place. Please contact the Title IX Coordinator or Dean of Students for more information about these procedures.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

  Georgia law does not define Domestic Violence, but Georgia defines Family Violence.

FAMILY VIOLENCE

Family violence is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household:

(1)  Any felony; or
(2)  Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

The term family violence shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.  See O.C.G. A. § 19-13-1.

For the purpose of reporting domestic violence in the annual security report statistics, Domestic Violence is defined as felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse 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, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction…or 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. 

DATING VIOLENCE

Georgia law does not define Dating Violence, but the definition of Family Violence (above) may cover some dating situations.

For the purpose of reporting dating violence in the annual security report, Dating Violence is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:  the length of the relationship; the type of relationship; and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.  See O.C.G. A. § 19-13-1

STALKING

(1) A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. For the purpose of this article, the terms computer and computer network shall have the same meanings as set out in Code Section 16-9-92; the term contact shall mean any communication including without being limited to communication in person, by telephone, by mail, by broadcast, by computer, by computer network, or by any other electronic device; and the place or places that contact by telephone, mail, broadcast, computer, computer network, or any other electronic device is deemed to occur shall be the place or places where such communication is received. For the purpose of this article, the term place or places shall include any public or private property occupied by the victim other than the residence of the defendant. For the purposes of this article, the term harassing and intimidating means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for such person's safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose. This Code section shall not be construed to require that an overt threat of death or bodily injury has been made.

(2)  A person commits the offense of stalking when such person, in violation of a bond to keep the peace posted pursuant to Code Section 17-6-110, standing order issued under Code Section 19-1-1, temporary restraining order, temporary protective order, permanent restraining order, permanent protective order, preliminary injunction, or permanent injunction or condition of pretrial release, condition of probation, or condition of parole in effect prohibiting the harassment or intimidation of another person, broadcasts or publishes, including electronic publication, the picture, name, address, or phone number of a person for whose benefit the bond, order, or condition was made and without such person's consent in such a manner that causes other persons to harass or intimidate such person and the person making the broadcast or publication knew or had reason to believe that such broadcast or publication would cause such person to be harassed or intimidated by others. See O.C.G. A. § 16-5-90.

For the purpose of reporting stalking in the annual security report, Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Georgia law does not have a single Sexual Assault definition, but does define the following crimes that are related to sex:
Rape
A person commits the offense of rape when he has carnal knowledge of:
(a) A female forcibly and against her will; or
(b) A female who is less than ten years of age.
Carnal knowledge in rape occurs when there is any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.  The fact that the person allegedly raped is the wife of the defendant shall not be a defense to a charge of rape.  See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-1. See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-22.1. See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-22.2.

Statutory Rape is defined in Georgia as:  A person commits the offense of statutory rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years and not his or her spouse, provided that no conviction shall be had for this offense on the unsupported testimony of the victim. See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-3.

Sodomy; Aggravated Sodomy is defined in Georgia as:  

(a) A person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.

(b) A person commits the offense of aggravated sodomy when he or she commits sodomy with force and against the will of the other person or when he or she commits sodomy with a person who is less than ten years of age. The fact that the person allegedly sodomized is the spouse of a defendant shall not be a defense to a charge of aggravated sodomy.  See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-2.

Sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority; sexual assault by practitioner of psychotherapy against patient is defined in Georgia as:
A person who has supervisory or disciplinary authority over another individual commits sexual assault when that person:
(a) Is a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or other administrator of any school [defined below as pre-kindergarten through 12th grade] and engages in sexual contact with such other individual who the actor knew or should have known is enrolled at the same school; provided, however, that such contact shall not be prohibited when the actor is married to such other individual;
(b) Is an employee or agent of any probation or parole office and engages in sexual contact with such other individual who the actor knew or should have known is a probationer or parolee under the supervision of the same probation or parole office;
(c) Is an employee or agent of a law enforcement agency and engages in sexual contact with such other individual who the actor knew or should have known is being detained by or is in the custody of any law enforcement agency;
(d) Is an employee or agent of a hospital and engages in sexual contact with such other individual who the actor knew or should have known is a patient or is being detained in the same hospital; or
(e) Is an employee or agent of a correctional facility, juvenile detention facility, facility providing services to a person with a disability, as such term is defined in Code Section 37-1-1, or a facility providing child welfare and youth services, as such term is defined in Code Section 49-5-3, who engages in sexual contact with such other individual who the actor knew or should have known is in the custody of such facility.
(f) A person who is an actual or purported practitioner of psychotherapy commits sexual assault when he or she engages in sexual contact with another individual who the actor knew or should have known is the subject of the actor’s actual or purported treatment or counseling or the actor uses the treatment or counseling relationship to facilitate sexual contact between the actor and such individual.
(g) A person who is an employee, agent, or volunteer at any facility licensed or required to be licensed under Code Section 31-7-3, 31-7-12, or 31-7-12.2 or who is required to be licensed pursuant to Code Section 31-7-151 or 31-7-173 commits sexual assault when he or she engages in sexual contact with another individual who the actor knew or should have known had been admitted to or is receiving services from such facility or the actor.
(h) Consent of the victim shall not be a defense to a prosecution under this Code section.

The words underlined above are defined as:
(1) Actor means a person accused of sexual assault.
(2) Intimate parts means the genital area, groin, inner thighs, buttocks, or breasts of a person.
(3) Psychotherapy means the professional treatment or counseling of a mental or emotional illness, symptom, or condition.
(4) Sexual contact means any contact between the actor and a person not married to the actor involving the intimate parts of either person for the purpose of sexual gratification of the actor.
(5) School means any educational program or institution instructing children at any level, pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, or the equivalent thereof if grade divisions are not used.  See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-25.1(b)-(e).

SEXUAL BATTERY

 Sexual battery is defined in Georgia as:  

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term intimate parts means the primary genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, or buttocks of a male or female and the breasts of a female.
(b) A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he or she intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.  See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-22.1.

Aggravated sexual battery is defined in Georgia as:

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term foreign object means any article or instrument other than the sexual organ of a person.
(b) A person commits the offense of aggravated sexual battery when he or she intentionally penetrates with a foreign object the sexual organ or anus of another person without the consent of that person. See O.C.G. A. § 16-6-22.2.

CONSENT

Georgia law does not define Consent, but for the purposes of Title IX investigations and Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence investigations at Mercer: 

Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary.  Consent is active, not passive.  Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.  Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in sexual activity. 

  • Consent to any one form or condition of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms or conditions of sexual activity. 
  • Current and/or previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
  • In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age, which is 16 years. Sexual activity with someone known to be – or based on the circumstances, should reasonably have known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout) constitutes a violation of this policy.
    • Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the "who, what, when, where, why or how" of their sexual interaction).
    • This Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the taking of alcohol or drugs.
    • Coercion, force, or threat of either, invalidates consent.

FORCE

Mercer's Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence policy defines force as the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent.

  • Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes clear that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
  • There is no requirement that a party resists the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual.