Rape is a very serious crime that involves sexual intercourse with another person that is forced against their will and without their consent. There are a number of terms for this crime throughout the United States in addition to the word “rape.” Some states refer to it as sexual assault, sexual battery or criminal sexual penetration. The one aspect of the crime no matter what its definition is that it involves sexual penetration or sodomy on a person without their consent.
Definitions of Rape and Sodomy
Generally, sexual penetration is defined as vaginal penetration by a body part or object. This act is considered to be rape. Sodomy is defined as oral sex or penetration of the anus by a body part or object. However, unwanted sexual contact not involving penetration is not considered rape but another criminal sexual act. It is usually considered to be molestation, sexual battery or criminal sexual contact.
The key aspect of rape and other sex crimes is a lack of consent. When sexual conduct becomes criminal in nature, it means that the victim did not consent to that contact or because the perpetrator forced the act on the other person. In some instances, there is a lack of consent because of the person’s mental state, age or incapacitation. Individuals who are incapable of giving consent include minors, people who are mentally ill, individuals with developmental disabilities and those who are incapacitated due to being drunk, drugged or unconscious.
Different Types of Rape
There are four specific types of rape, all of which carry varying penalties. They include the following:
• Stranger Rape: Rape that occurs against a victim by someone unknown to that victim
• Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent, usually between the ages of 16 and 18 depending on the state
• Date Rape: This type of rape occurs between a perpetrator who is known to the victim and can take place when the victim is either conscious or unconscious
• Marital Rape: This is a type of rape that occurs when a husband forces himself on his wife without her consent. Although it was previously not recognized as rape, it is now a serious offense
Penalties for Rape
There are a number of severe penalties for a person who is convicted of rape. They include the following:
• Prison: Rape is a felony, which carries serious penalties, including prison terms that can range anywhere from one year to life. Certain factors determine the length of the defendant’s prison sentence, including whether a weapon was used and whether the rape resulted in a serious bodily injury to the victim. The victim’s age or mental status can also come into play when a prison sentence is decided.
• Treatment: Many individuals who are convicted of rape are required to undergo treatment in prison or jail. This is usually a condition of probation.
• Go on the Sex Offender Registry: Each state has its own sex offender registry and a program that notifies victims if or when their rapist has been released or is out on bail. When a person is convicted of rape, they are required to go on the sex offender registry. Being placed on the registry makes it difficult for offenders to find housing and employment.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Due to the serious nature of rape, it’s imperative that a person who has been accused and arrested for the crime get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Defendants can face potentially lengthy prison sentences and negative repercussions that can last a lifetime. A lawyer who is well-versed in this area of the law can defend a person to the best of their ability and either rely on a plea bargain or a number of defenses. Possible defenses in a rape case include the following:
• It Wasn’t Me: One of the most common defenses for a rape charge is to simply state that someone else committed the crime, so it wasn’t the defendant
• The Sex was Consensual: Another common defense the criminal defense lawyer can use is to claim that the sex was consensual. With that defense, questions will arise regarding what constitutes consent
• Insanity: The defendant can also plead insanity, which argues that he is mentally ill and unable to control his behavior
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