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Constitutional Court rules against uniformly heavy punishment of trespassers committing sex crimes

All News 15:51 February 23, 2023

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the current law stipulating a prison sentence of at least seven years for those charged with trespassing into someone else's house to commit sexual offenses is unconstitutional.

The court unanimously made the ruling in response to separate petitions from the Jeonju District Court and seven criminal suspects who all asked whether the first clause of the sexual violence punishment law's Article 3 is against the Constitution.

A file photo of the Constitutional Court (Yonhap)

A file photo of the Constitutional Court (Yonhap)

The clause stipulates that a person who commits rape or forced indecent acts after trespassing into a private residence shall be punished by life imprisonment or a prison sentence of at least seven years. The law also applies to the act of trespassing and committing sexual offenses by taking advantage of the victim's condition of unconsciousness or inability to resist.

Previously, the same law stipulated imprisonment of at least five years or life sentence. But the statutory punishment was toughened through a legal revision in 2020.

The Constitutional Court said the current law blocks a court from handing out a suspended prison sentence, depending on the circumstances, to those who commit sexual offenses on the occasion of an intrusion into a private residence.

It also said that setting the lower limit of the statutory punishment uniformly high and severely punishing even minor sexual offenses and indecent acts runs counter to the principle of liability.


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