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Student Affairs - Inspiring Student Success

Sexual Assault


Louisiana State Laws

The information in this section is provided to help you access Louisiana laws pertaining rape and sexual assault. In addition, legal resources are provided to help you find the answers to your questions about the justice system, Louisiana laws, and your rights as a victim.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The Office of Violence Prevention & Support Services does not provide legal advice, and nothing on this site constitutes legal advice. However, we can assist survivors in accessing legal services.

 

What is sexual assault? What is rape?

The following definitions are provided by the National Institute of Justice.

Sexual assault covers a wide range of unwanted behaviors—up to but not including penetration—that are attempted or completed against a victim's will or when a victim cannot consent because of age, disability, or the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sexual assault may involve actual or threatened physical force, use of weapons, coercion, intimidation, or pressure and may include—

  • Intentional touching of the victim's genitals, anus, groin, or breasts.
  • Voyeurism.
  • Exposure to exhibitionism.
  • Undesired exposure to pornography.
  • Public display of images that were taken in a private context or when the victim was unaware.

Rape definitions vary by state and in response to legislative advocacy. Most statutes currently define rape as nonconsensual oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of the victim by body parts or objects using force, threats of bodily harm, or by taking advantage of a victim who is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of giving consent. Incapacitation may include mental or cognitive disability, self-induced or forced intoxication, status as minor, or any other condition defined by law that voids an individual's ability to give consent.


What are Louisiana’s criminal laws on sexual assault and rape?

In Louisiana, several criminal laws cover the offenses of rape or sexual assault.

If you believe or suspect you may be a victim of sexual assault, you can contact any of the service providers listed in the resources section or the Tulane Office of Violence Prevention & Support Services (504) 314-2161 to discuss your situation, and determine if you would like to pursue a criminal justice remedy.


Rape Shield Law

Louisiana law prohibits questioning victims of sexual assault or rape who are testifying in criminal trials about their past sexual behavior, with certain limited exceptions.

Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 412 states that “When an accused is charged with a crime involving sexually assaultive behavior, reputation or opinion evidence of the past sexual behavior of the victim is not admissible.” Two exceptions to this rule exist:

  • Evidence about past sexual behavior of a victim may be admissible if it is offered to show that the defendant was not the source of semen or injury to the victim. However, this evidence is limited to a period 72 hours before the time of the offense.
  • Evidence of past sexual behavior with the accused can be offered on the issue of whether the victim consented.

Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 412.1 also excludes evidence about “the manner and style of the vicitm’s attire” in cases of aggravated rape, forcible rape, simple rape, sexual battery, or second degree sexual battery.

These “rape shield” laws do not protect victims from being questioned about these issues in civil law cases, although your attorney may use other types of evidentiary protections, such as relevance, to exclude evidence about past sexual behavior in a civil trial.

 

Legal Resources

Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice

Louisiana District Attorney’s Association (LDAA)

The LDAA is committed to helping victims of crime receive all the services provided by the law.
(225) 340-0171

New Orleans Family Justice Center
(504) 592-4005

New Orleans Police Department and the NOPD Assistance for Victims of Crime Brochure

Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office
Victim/Witness Division
(504) 822-2414

Project SAVE
Project SAVE provides free, emergency legal representation to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in Orleans Parish. Staff attorneys help with legal orders to keep survivors safe and to protect their legal rights. Legal services may include temporary restraining and protection orders, temporary child support, custody, and use of property.
(504) 310-6873

The National Crime Victim Bar Association

, an affiliate of the National Center for Victims of Crime, provides a variety of free legal advocacy services.

The United States Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Louisiana

Tulane University Police Department – Uptown Campus
TUPD Victim’s Resources: (504) 865-5381

 

Other online legal resources

VictimLaw

WomensLaw.org
Includes information on staying safe, knowing the laws, preparing for court, where to find help, how to help others, and how to choose a lawyer. Also includes Louisiana state statutes.

Division of Student Affairs, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-314-2188 studnaff@tulane.edu