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 What is Rape?

Rape is a criminal offense that is usually classified as a violent felony. Every state in the United States has laws regarding rape that define the act, although the wording may vary slightly.

Rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim, regardless of their gender. There are many different circumstances in which an individual may be charged with rape, including:

  • When an individual engages in sexual intercourse against another individual’s will or without that individual’s consent through:
    • force;
    • violence;
    • duress;
    • menace;
    • fear; or
    • fraud;
  • When an individual is too Intoxicated to consent and another individual engages in sexual conduct with them;
  • When an individual engages in sexual conduct with another individual who suffers from a mental or physical disability that prevents them from being able to consent to the act; or
  • When an individual engages in sexual conduct with another individual who is incapacitated, meaning that the victim was unaware that they are engaging in a sexual act, for example, an individual who is asleep.

What are Some Different Categories of Rape?

There are different types of rape that may be categorized depending upon the factors that are present, such as the individual’s ages and their relationship. The different categories of rape charges may include:

Statutory rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with an individual who is under the age of consent, regardless of whether or not the act was actually consensual. The age of consent varies by state from 16 to 18 years of age.

Even if an individual is 19 years of age and they engage in sexual intercourse with another individual who is 2 years younger, if the age of consent in that state is 18, the 19 year old may face statutory rape charges. Date rape occurs when unlawful sexual intercourse occurs during a social engagement between a perpetrator and a victim.

Date rape may also occur when the victim was drugged and the perpetrator engages in sexual intercourse with them. Marital rape is rape that occurs between married spouses.

This form of rape occurs when one spouse forces a sexual act upon the other spouse without their consent. It is important to note that marital rape has not always been recognized as a criminal offense.

Rape is a criminal offense that may occur in many different scenarios if certain criteria are met, not just in the situations discussed above. Additionally, some states divide rape into degrees based upon the seriousness of the offense.

Fist degree rape may involve severe physical injuries and often carries a harsher punishment that second degree rape. Second degree rape may not involve a physical injury beyond the incident itself.

What is Party Rape?

It is common for individuals to consume alcohol and drugs at a party. Intoxication causes individuals to lower their inhibitions and may lead to sexual advances.

Colleges and universities may be places where young people have large parties and where binge-drinking is part of the culture. Nightclubs may be another type of location where individuals drink alcohol and look for sexual partners.

Date rape occurs when there is unlawful sexual intercourse during a social engagement between the perpetrator and the victim. Party rape occurs when sexual intercourse occurs at a party and one of the parties did not consent to it, whether or not they were intoxicated.

Is Having Sex While Drunk Illegal?

Mutual and consensual sexual advances are legal, however rape laws dictate that is illegal to have sex with someone who cannot consent, including:

  • Individuals with mental illness;
  • Individuals under the age of 18; and
  • Individuals who have consumed too much alcohol to make decisions on their own behalf.

In past years, many states had different laws if an individual had consumed alcohol by choice. Today, however, choice in terms of alcohol consumption is not a consideration.

If an individual has consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication and another individual has sex with them against their will, it is considered rape and it is illegal. It is also illegal to have sex with an unconscious individual for the same reason, an unconscious individual cannot consent.

However, the victim does not have to be unconscious for the nonconsensual act to be considered a rape in the eyes of the law and the courts. Being intoxicated, whether by choice or through being drugged by another individual, removes an individual’s ability to consent.

What are Some Possible Consequences of Being Charged with Rape?

There are numerous consequences that an individual may face if they have been charged with rape. The defendant may face felony conviction consequences if they are convicted of this offense.

In addition, a convicted defendant may be required to register as a sex offender. This comes with many requirements and restrictions that an individual must fulfill for many years, possibly their entire lives.

In addition, charges may cause an individual to have issues at their place of employment, school, or in their personal lives.

What are the Penalties for a Conviction of Rape?

Rape is a very serious offense. As previously noted, it is considered to be a violent felony.

The penalties for a rape conviction may vary by state and will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. A conviction will most likely result in incarceration for the defendant.

The length of time an individual will be required to serve in prison will depend on the severity of the crime and whether or not the defendant had any prior convictions for rape or other felonies. In certain cases, a conviction for rape may result in a life sentence for the defendant, depending on the facts of the case.

The potential penalties and incarceration time will increase if the offense involved a minor or if the offense resulted in the death of the victim. There are some states that 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 discretion regarding the length of the sentence imposed. The court may also have discretion regarding whether or not the defendant is permitted to serve any portion of their sentence on probation rather than in prison.

What Defenses are Available?

If one of the parties is intoxicated, they are not able to consent, so that is not an adequate defense to argue that both of the parties consented. However, if both of the parties are sober, mutual consent may be a reasonable defense.

If both of the parties are drunk, the defendant may be able to use this fact in their favor while shaping a defense. There are also other factors that could still make the defendant guilty of rape, including:

  • If the plaintiff is a minor;
  • If the plaintiff said no; or
  • If the plaintiff was not of the age to legally drink.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been raped, or accused of rape, it is important to have an experienced criminal attorney working on your behalf. You should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

There may be severe consequences for rape convictions. In addition, rape trials are notoriously complex and difficult processes for all of the parties involved. Legal counsel is essential for both parties in any rape case.


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