Rape Laws

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What Is Rape?

Rape laws historically only recognized crimes against women. However, under modern statutes, rape is unlawful sexual intercourse without a person's consent. A defendant can be charged with rape if the person engages in sexual intercourse against another person’s will or without his or her consent using force, violence, duress, menace, fear, or fraud.

The defendant can also be accused and charged with rape in the following circumstances:

Types of Rape

There are three distinct types of rape, each carrying different legal penalties:

How Do Prosecutors Prove Rape?

In order to convict a defendant charged with rape, the prosecutor has the burden beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the following elements:

What Are the Penalties for a Conviction of Rape?

Rape is considered a felony and a strike under the three strikes law. The penalties of rape convictions vary in each state and depend on the circumstances proved at trial. The average penalty for a rape conviction is between 8-9 years and the penalty can be much higher depending the defendant’s prior convictions of rape. In some certain cases, a rape conviction can result in a life sentence depending on the factors proved at trial.

The potential penalties increase if the rape involved a minor or if the rape resulted in death of the victim.

What Should You Do If You Were Raped?

If you were raped, you should contact the authorities and seek medical attention immediately. Even if you do not feel or see any symptoms of physical injuries, a medical examination is necessary to prevent any sexually transmitted infections. A medical exam will also help to gather any evidence of sexual assault. After seeking medical help, you should:

What Can You Do If You Have Been Accused of Rape?

Rape is a serious charge with many complexities. A skilled criminal defense lawyer familiar with your state criminal laws can explain your options and help formulate possible defenses.

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Last Modified: 07-31-2014 09:43 AM PDT

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