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 What Is The Legal Definition Of Rape?

In a legal contex, rape is a criminal act that is most commonly classified as a violent felony. Each state in the United States has laws associated with rape which legally define the act, although the wording of such laws may vary across the states.

To further define the term, rape is unlawful sexual intercourse without a person’s consent, regardless of the victim’s gender identity or presentation. There are many different circumstances in which a person may be charged with rape, including:

  • When a person engages in sexual intercourse against another person’s will or without their consent by using:
    • force;
    • violence;
    • duress;
    • menace;
    • fear; and/or
    • fraud;
  • When a person is too Intoxicated to consent, and another person engages in sexual conduct with them;
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with another person who is mentally or physically disabled, which prevents them from being able to consent to the sexual conduct; and
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with another person who is incapacitated, meaning that the victim was unaware that they were engaging in a sexual act. An example of this would be a person who is asleep.

There are different kinds of rape which may be categorized according the factors that are present, largely the plaintiff and defendant’s ages and relationship to each other. Some examples of the different types of rape charges may include:

Statutory rape refers to unlawful sexual intercourse with a person who is under the state age of consent, regardless of whether the sexual act was actually consensual. The age of consent may vary by state, but generally ranges from 16 to 18 years of age. When a person who is 19 years of age has sexual intercourse with another person who is two years younger, when that state’s age of consent it 18, the 19 year old may face statutory rape charges. Statutory rape and a state’s age of consent is further discussed below.

Date rape occurs when unlawful sexual intercourse is committed during a social engagement between the perpetrator and their victim. Date rape can also occur when a victim has been drugged and the perpetrator has sexual intercourse with them.

Martial rape is rape that occurs in a marriage. This type of rape occurs when one spouse forces a sexual act on the other spouse without their consent. Martial rape has not always been recognized as a legal offense; however, it is now considered to be a serious crime. Additionally, the defendant is not permitted to use marriage as a defense in a rape case.

It is important to note that rape is a criminal act which may occur in many different scenarios when the legal criteria are met, and not just in the situations that have been discussed above. Some states divide rape into different degrees based on the seriousness of the offense.

First degree rape generally denotes severe physical injuries and as such carries harsher punishments compared to second degree rape. Second degree rape may not involve any physical injuries beyond the incident itself.

What Is Statutory Rape?

To reiterate, statutory rape occurs when someone who is over the age of consent has sex with someone who is below the age of consent, also known as a minor. The age of consent, as well as the ability of parents to consent for their children, are issues that are determined differently in many jurisdictions. As was previously mentioned, even when a person who is under the age of consent initiates sex with someone who is over the age of consent, the law says that it is still statutory rape because the younger person has no legal right to give consent.

To further clarify the difference between rape and statutory rape, rape refers to when someone forces another person to have sex against their will. Statutory rape refers to when the government has passed laws stating that under specific circumstances, even when both people consent, it is still against the law.

In some jurisdictions, anyone can press charges for statutory rape. If someone who is over the age of consent has sex with someone who is under the age of consent, the older individual can still go to jail. This remains true even if the only person who is pressing charges is the arresting officer.

When the younger person lies about their age to the older person, the older person is generally still charged for statutory rape. This is because it is the older person’s responsibility to determine the real age of the other person, and to ensure that their actions are legal.

What Is The Arizona Age Of Consent?

In Arizona specifically, it is illegal to engage in sexual intercourse with a person who is under the age of consent, which is 18 years old. If such intercourse occurs, the victim can press criminal charges against the adult for statutory rape.

However, in Arizona, a genuine and reasonable ignorance of the age of the victim of statutory rape may serve as a defense. The victim must be aged 15, 16, or 17, and the offender must have been actually ignorant of their age. Additionally, the offender must not have had any reason to know that the victim could be under the age of 18.

If the victim is under the age of 15, ignorance of their age will not be a defense. If the victim is under the age of 18 but older than 15, and the offender is under 19 and no more than 24 months older than the victim, this could serve as a defense to statutory rape in the state of Arizona.

What Are The Legal Consequences Of Rape?

There are a number of legal consequences that a person may face if they are charged with rape, including felony conviction consequences if they are convicted of the crime. Additionally, the defendant may be required to register as a sex offender, which includes many requirements and restrictions that they will be required to fulfill for many years. Additionally, charges may cause issues for the convicted at their place of employment or school, or in their personal lives.

To reiterate, rape is a serious crime and is considered to be a violent felony. Penalties for rape convictions vary by state, and largely depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. However, a rape conviction is likely to result in incarceration for the defendant. Their prison sentence will depend on the severity of the crime, as well as whether the defendant has any prior convictions for rape or other felonies. A conviction for rape may result in a life sentence for the defendant, depending on the facts that are shown at trial.

Potential penalties and incarceration time will increase if the offense involved a minor, or if the offense resulted in the death of the victim. Some states require a minimum prison sentence, or may require a court to impose a sentence that does not include probation or early parole. In other states, the court may have considerable discretion in terms of the length of the defendant’s sentence. The court may also have discretion in terms of whether the defendant can serve any portion of their sentence on probation, rather than in prison.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Assistance With The Arizona Age Of Consent?

Whether you are accused of rape or are a victim of rape, an Arizona criminal lawyer can help you. An experienced attorney can either clear your name or help you seek legal recourse, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, throughout the process.

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