Rape is defined as an unlawful sexual act carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a someone’s will. It is also known in many jurisdictions as sexual assault. Rape can also be sexual contact with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.
Rape/sexual assault is one of the most serious felonies that can carry a penalty of years in prision and sex offender registration.
Understanding the numbers behind false rape accusations starts with defining what exactly a false claim is, which varies from state to state. The two most common terms that most states use to categorize false rape claims are false reports and baseless reports.
A false report is when a purported victim goes to law enforcement claiming that another person assaulted them, but a subsequent investigation factually proves that it never occurred. This is in contrast to a baseless report, where investigators do not doubt the truth of the story but cannot find enough evidence to pursue a case against the accused.
Both of these claims are usually lumped together under the umbrella of “unfounded reports” for statistical purposes. There are not many academic studies published on false rape claims. However, the few that do exist estimate that between 2% and 10% of sexual assault allegations are made falsely. An underreporting of sexual assaults in general means that any data on sexual assaults is incomplete. This negatively affects calculating false claims as well.
Filing a rape claim means going to the police If someone files an untruthful report. This is known as filing a false police report and is illegal. Filing a false report is defined as a person knowingly making a false statement or lying to law enforcement officers with the intent to either start or disrupt a legal investigation. The statement can be made either in the police station or out of it to on-duty law enforce personnel. This is a crime on both the state and federal level.
Although each state has their own laws detailing how the offense is defined, there are usually a number of overlapping elements. It is important to note that a false report is not the same as a false confession. A false confession is made by the alleged perpetrator, where a false report is made by the alleged victim.
Sexual assault is a very serious crime in every jurisdiction and the possible consequences could be dire. If convicted, a person can spend anywhere from a few months to many years in prison, depending on the severity of the charge. Sexual assault convictions now often come with the additional punishment of being put in a state or federal database as a registered sex offender. The registered status lasts for years, and in some cases even a lifetime.
If designated as a registered sex offender, a person faces a number of limitations and restrictions even after they have served their time. By law, being on the list means that the state can control certain aspects of your life including where you live, what jobs you can have, your ability to travel, and other rights that most people take for granted. The stigma of being a convicted sex offender can last a lifetime.
Remember that if you are charged with a crime, you have the right to an attorney. If you are arrested on a sexual assault claim that you did not commit, don’t say anything until you can speak to an experienced criminal attorney. This will help you avoid being tricked into an “incriminating” statement. Be sure to protect your rights, stay silent, and stay as calm as possible. Let your attorney do his or her job.
If the police ultimately determine that the claim was made falsely, they will then make the decision of whether or not to charge the accuser with filing a false report. If the false claim has a major negative economic effect on your life (business opportunities, career advancement, etc.), you may need to seek the services of a personal injury attorney to look at a defamation lawsuit.
Yes. Having an attorney on your side is important in any criminal law matter but is especially critical if you are falsely accused of sexual assault. You may need to hire a criminal law attorney in your area are if you’re involved in any way with false rape claims.
The potential consequences can be devastating to someone’s life and livelihood, and whether the claim is true or not, the accused will have to deal with enormous stress.