Sexsomnia as a Defense in Repeated Sex Crimes

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2018 Mar;46(1):78-85.


Sexsomnia and related sexual behaviors during sleep may be diagnosed in individuals accused of sex crimes. Although sexsomnia is now formally recognized in the DSM-5, the variable presentation of such behaviors and the possibility of malingering in medicolegal situations can cause challenges for forensic evaluators and legal professionals alike. Review of the literature reveals a paucity of cases involving allegations of repeated incidents due to abnormal sexual behaviors or experiences in sleep. It is important for experts involved in such cases to understand how the courts have responded to sexsomnia defenses involving diverse alleged incidents. The authors review the case law and discuss methods of examining evaluees with suspected sexsomnia in cases of alleged sexual assault.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Automatism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Medical
  • Male
  • Parasomnias / diagnosis*
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / diagnosis*