Sexual assault does involve physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim, as opposed to normal assault, which merely entails putting the victim in dread of physical contact or a failed attempt at physical contact. Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual contact performed under the use of force, coercion, or violence.
Sexual battery for less serious offenses and forcible sexual assault for more serious offenses are the two categories North Carolina uses to describe behaviors that are commonly classified as sexual assault.
What Constitutes a Sexual Offense in North Carolina Under the Law?
Any sexual act performed against the other person’s will, other than vaginal penetration, is considered a forcible sexual offense in North Carolina. Statutes prohibit the following forced sexual actions:
- An object entering another person’s genital or anal orifice without a valid medical reason
Are Forcible Sexual Offense and Rape Considered the Same Crime in North Carolina?
No, although both may include body penetration. In North Carolina, rape is only defined as coerced sexual activity with a victim that involves a non-object vaginal penetration.
What Is a Forcible Sexual Offense of the First Degree?
According to North Carolina law, engaging in a sexual act with force or against the victim’s will in which the perpetrator accomplishes one of the following constitutes a first-degree forcible sexual offense:
- Carries out the activity with the assistance or collaboration of others.
- Displays or uses a weapon that may be deadly or dangerous or an object that the victim reasonably believed could be lethal or harmful
- Causes the sufferer or another person great harm
What Is the Penalty in North Carolina for a First-Degree Forcible Sexual Offense?
Forcible sexual activity in the first degree is a Class B1 felony. A sentence of 192 to 240 months in jail is possible for someone who has never been convicted of a felony. A person with a history of felonies could spend up to 483 months in jail.
What Must Occur Before Sexual Activity Is Legal?
Both partners must consent and be of legal age to consent to have sex. In North Carolina, 16 is the legal age of consent for sexual relations. The elder partner may have committed a statutory sexual offense or rape if at least one partner is under 16.
Consent: What Is It?
For sexual activities, the legal concept of consent differs from state to state. Consent is required to demonstrate that the partners have voluntarily consented to engage in sexual activity. There could be legal repercussions, including jail time when consent is absent.
Does Sexual Activity Require Consent?
Sexual assault is a crime that can be considered to be a felony because it might involve using force or violence. Suppose there is no evidence that the accuser consented to the sexual contact. In that case, the defendant may be found guilty in a criminal prosecution, including an allegation of sexual assault. Consent might not be present when the accuser is inebriated, mentally sick, or a minor.
Can a Minor Give Consent to Sexual Activity?
A minor cannot agree to certain sexual behaviors in most states. This situation typically involves a person of legal age consenting to have intercourse with someone legally considered a minor.
When this occurs, it is regarded as statutory rape, and the minor is incapable of giving permission under the law. The fact that the accused was wrong about the minor’s age is not a valid excuse.
What Does Consent to Sexual Activity Mean Legally?
Once more, each state has a different definition of permission that is essential to determining whether a crime has occurred. The most important thing to keep in mind is that consent should be made clear and explicit.
There are common inquiries that a court may use to determine if there is proof of consent:
- Affirmative Consent: Did the parties express their consent to participate in sexual activity through overt or explicit words or actions?
- Consent Given Voluntarily: Did the offender use coercion, harshness, or the fear of violence to force the victim to consent to sex against their will?
- Ability to Consent: Was there a legal or other impediment that prevented consent?
- Was the victim of legal consent?
- Was there a mental or other incapacity or developmental disorder? Was the victim unresponsive?
- Was the victim drunk or unconscious when the incident occurred? At the time of the attack, was the victim asleep?
- Was the accused intentionally given medicines that impacted their ability to consent?
What Is North Carolina’s Statutory Rape Law?
In North Carolina, having sex vaginally with a child under 16 is considered statutory rape. In North Carolina, there are three different statutory rape crimes. The main differences between the crimes are the ages of the perpetrator and the victim.
Rape: What Is It?
Each state has its own unique definition of what constitutes rape today. It was traditionally understood to mean having sex with a woman against her will and a man’s will. A male having intercourse with a woman who is under the influence of drugs or a guy using false pretenses to have sex with a woman could be considered rape. Still, many states currently downplay the “forcible” element.
Rape laws are often gender-neutral, meaning they cover both acts between members of the same sex and acts between men and women.
Do Young Boys Fall Under the Statutory Rape Laws?
Instead of mentioning a specific gender or sex, most statutes refer to both victims and offenders as “persons.” However, it is not always documented and prosecuted when adult women who have sex with boys not of legal age are subjected to statutory rape statutes. Due to the social misconception that the teenage or young boy was “fortunate” or that the underage rape was OK because the boy enjoyed the sex, state prosecutors don’t often press charges against women who conduct statutory rape against minor boys.
Inform the police if you believe a young boy was the victim of statutory rape. It’s up to prosecutors, not regular people, to decide whether or not the state will pursue legal action.
What About Statutory Homosexual Rape?
Two categories of statutory rape between gays are distinguished:
- Man/Boy: The man will almost certainly face charges.
- Girl or woman: (Mostly unproven.) The first instance to receive media attention was contentious. Some claimed that the 18-year-old lady was exploiting the 14-year-old girl, while others asserted that it was an example of discrimination against homosexuals.
Do Statutory Rape Defenses Exist?
A few defenses exist against statutory rape.
The defendant may argue that they were mistaken in thinking the victim was of legal age to consent. This defense, though, differs from state to state. Depending on the state, the defendant may be held strictly liable for the crime of statutory rape, regardless of what they may believe.
Other states will restrict the age mistake to specific situations. If the defendant can show they have a reasonable basis for their incorrect age belief, certain states will accept the defense:
- Rape by deception: The defendant asserts that the juvenile intentionally lied about their age to have sex with him. In other words, the defendant is a victim of the minor’s devious desire to engage in sexual activity with someone older than is permitted by law. It will be difficult to determine whether this defense is legitimate because it is so new.
- “Romeo and Juliet”: Due to the partners’ age gap, many states have statutory rape exceptions.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Forcible sexual assault in the first degree is a serious crime with a potential punishment of several years in jail. For assistance with your case, if you are charged with a forcible sexual offense in North Carolina, get in touch with a North Carolina criminal defense attorney at once.