Statutory rape is a crime that occurs when an individual engages in sexual activities with another individual who is under the age of consent for that state. It is important to note that statutory rape is considered a strict liability crime. A statutory crime is a crime in which the intention of the parties engaging in sexual activities is not considered when determining whether or not an individual is guilty of the crime.
Instead, only the individuals’ ages will be considered when determining whether or not either of them is guilty. In other words, it is immaterial to a criminal forcible rape case as to whether the individual under the age of consent did or did not, in fact, consent to the sexual activity. Additionally, mistake of age is usually not allowed as a legal defense to being charged with statutory rape.
It is important to note that the age of consent will vary from state to state. Statutory rape in North Carolina is a separate crime from the crime of forcible rape, however, the two crimes share similar criminal elements.
It is also important to note that forcible rape crimes in North Carolina are separated into different degrees based on the seriousness of the act committed. For example, first-degree forcible rape in North Carolina is a criminal act wherein an individual engages in vaginal intercourse with another person by force and against the will of the other person and does any of the following:
- Uses, threatens to use, or displays a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article that the other person reasonably believes to be a dangerous or deadly weapon;
- Inflicts serious personal injury upon the victim or another person;
- The person commits the offense aided and abetted by one or more other persons;
It is important to note that any person who commits first-degree forcible rape in North Carolina is guilty of a Class B1 felony. Whereas any person who commits second-degree forcible rape in North Carolina is guilty of a Class C felony.
With either felony conviction, the person convicted for first or second-degree forcible rape has no rights to custody of or rights of inheritance from any child born as a result of the commission of the rape. Nor shall that person have any parental or legal rights related to the child under Chapter 48 or Subchapter 1 of Chapter 7B of the North Carolina General Statutes.
What Is Second-Degree Forcible Rape in North Carolina?
North Carolina’s Criminal Code refers to the criminal act of engaging in forced vaginal intercourse with another person either by force and against the will of that other person; or with a person who has a mental disability or who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, and the person performing the act knows or should reasonably know the other person has a mental disability or is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
If a person engages in such an act in North Carolina, they will be guilty of 2nd-degree forcible rape. These criminal laws were developed because a person in such a mental condition is considered legally incapable of providing valid consent to such sexual acts.
Are Second-Degree Rape and Sexual Battery the Same Thing in North Carolina?
In short, no. Sexual battery crimes occur when an individual engages in sexual contact with a victim without their consent and for the purpose of that person’s sexual gratification, sexual abuse, or sexual arousal. In other words, for a sexual battery crime, there is absolutely no penetration of the victim’s body at all. This is vastly different from the crime of second-degree forcible rape, which involves the forced vaginal penetration of the victim.
Thus, even though the two crimes share similar criminal elements, they are not the same crimes. Both crimes may occur by force and against the will of the other person or with a person who has a mental disability or who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, and the person performing the act knows or should reasonably know that the other person has a mental disability or is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
However, any person who commits the offense of sexual battery may only be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor and not with a felony.
Is Second-Degree Forcible Rape a Class B1 Felony Like First-Degree Forcible Rape?
As mentioned above, although second-degree forcible rape is considered a felony crime in North Carolina, it is not considered to be a Class B1 felony. Instead, second-degree forcible rape is considered to be a Class C felony, which is a lesser felony than that of a Class B1 felony.
This means that the criminal punishments for first-degree and second-degree forcible rape crimes will differ from one another.
What Is the Punishment for Forcible Rape in the Second Degree?
Once again, when a person is convicted of second-degree forcible rape in North Carolina, upon their conviction, that person will have no rights to custody of or rights of inheritance from any child conceived during the commission of the rape, nor will that person have any legal rights related to the child under the North Carolina General Statutes.
Additionally, a person convicted of forcible rape in the second degree will also receive imprisonment for their crime. For Class C felonies and all felonies outside Class A felonies, North Carolina criminal courts will assess a person’s prior criminal record level and then use their prior criminal record to determine their criminal sentence in the current case. For Class C felonies, an individual may receive anywhere from 44 to 182 months in prison.
Are There Any Legal Defenses to the Crime of Second-Degree Forcible Rape?
In North Carolina, there are a few legal defenses that apply and don’t apply to statutory rape crimes:
- Mistake of Incapacity: In North Carolina, a defendant may argue that he or she did not know or had no reasonable way to know the other person had a mental disability or was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless at the time the sexual activity occurred;
- Innocence: The best legal defense to charges related to forcible rape is actual innocence. As such, if the defendant is able to prove that the alleged conduct did not occur or that the alleged conduct occurred with someone else and not the defendant, then the charges against the defendant must be dismissed in full.
Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for My Second-Degree Forcible Degree Rape Charge?
If you have been accused of forcible rape in North Carolina, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced North Carolina criminal lawyer immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you of your legal rights, as well as help you build a solid legal defense against the charges brought against you. This includes asserting any applicable legal defenses that may be available in your specific criminal case.
Also, an attorney will also be able to help build a solid legal defense on your behalf, as well as represent you at any and all in person criminal proceedings. An attorney will also be able to communicate with the prosecutors on your case and attempt to have the charges brought against you lessened or dismissed completely.
Finally, they can also assist you in any plea bargaining that may occur regarding your specific criminal case.