In a legal context, rape is a criminal act that is generally classified as a violent felony. Each state maintains its laws about rape which define the act, and as such, the wording may vary across the states. Generally speaking, rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse without a person’s consent, regardless of the victim’s gender assignment or presentation.

There are many different circumstances in which a person may be charged with rape, such as:

  • When a person engages in sexual intercourse against another person’s will, or without that person’s consent, by using:
    • force;
    • violence;
    • duress;
    • menace;
    • fear; and/or
    • fraud.
  • When a person is considered to be too intoxicated to consent, but another person engages in sexual conduct with them;
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with another person who is mentally and/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 are engaging in a sexual act, such as someone who is asleep.

The different kinds of rape may be categorized depending on the factors that are present, such as the individual’s ages and relationship to each other. Different types of rape charges include:

Statutory rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with a person who is under the 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.

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

Just as it sounds, martial rape is rape that occurs in a marriage, such as when a spouse forces a sexual act on the other spouse without their consent. Martial rape has not always been recognized as an offense; however, it is now considered to be a serious crime, and the defendant cannot use marriage as a defense in a rape case.

Because rape is a criminal act, it may occur in many different scenarios if the criteria are met, not only in the situations discussed above. Additionally, some states divide rape into degrees based on the seriousness of the offense. First degree rape may include severe physical injuries, and as such carries considerably harsher punishments than second degree rape. Second degree rape may not involve any physical injuries beyond the incident itself.

What Is The Age Of Consent For Sex In Rhode Island?

The age of consent in for sex in Rhode Island is 16 years old; however, this only applies to heterosexual conduct. Rhode Island maintains a law making homosexual conduct illegal. The Supreme Court, as applied to consenting adults in private settings, has declared such laws to be unconstitutional. As such, Rhode Island has no age of consent for homosexual conduct.

Similar to other states, Rhode Island makes allowances for adolescents who are under the age of consent, but are close to the same age. This is known as a Romeo and Juliet Law. Generally speaking, anyone who is over the age of 14 can consent to have sex with anyone who is under the age of 18.

However, once somebody is over the age of 18, there are almost no circumstances in Rhode Island in which they can legally have sex with someone who is under the age of consent.

What Is Third Degree Sexual Assault In Rhode Island? How Is Third Degree Sexual Assault Punished In Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, statutory rape is referred to as “third degree sexual assault.” 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, or a minor who is under the age of 16 in Rhode Island.

If you are found guilty of third degree sexual assault in Rhode Island, you can face up to 5 years in prison. However, if you are over the age of 18 and the victim under the age of 14, you can be charged with child molestation. There are two degrees of severity for the charge of child molestation, but the differences between the two are largely determined by the facts of the case.

Ultimately, the severity of the punishment is based on the age of the people who are involved. If the defendant is over the age of 18 (or is much older than 18) and the victim is either under 18 or under the age of 14, the severity of the punishment increases.

What Happens After Someone Is Accused Of Rape?

After a person reports a rape to local law enforcement, they will begin an investigation into the matter. When there is enough evidence, the perpetrator will be charged with rape, and will be arrested. Depending on the circumstances of the case, bail may or may not be set. If the parties to the case cannot reach a plea agreement, the case will proceed to trial.

In order to convict a defendant that is charged with rape, the prosecution carries the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, they must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant was engaged in some form of sexual act or intercourse with the victim, and it is important to note that full penetration of sexual intercourse is not required in order for rape to have occurred;
  • The sexual intercourse or sexual act was against the victim’s will, and/or without their consent; and/or
  • The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse or the sexual act through an act of force, violence, duress, menace, fear, and/or fraud.

There are numerous consequences that person may face when charged with rape. The defendant may face felony conviction consequences, and they may be required to register as a sex offender.

Rape is considered to be a violent felony, and as such, specific penalties for rape convictions vary by state and depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. However, a conviction will generally result in incarceration for the defendant. The exact amount of prison time will largely depend on the severity of the crime, and whether the defendant has any prior convictions for rape or other felonies. Under specific circumstances, a conviction for rape may result in a life sentence for the defendant, depending on the facts shown at trial.

Additionally, the potential penalties and incarceration time increases 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 they require the court to impose a sentence that does not include probation or early parole. In other states, the court may be given discretion regarding the length of the defendant’s sentence, as well as whether the defendant can serve any portion of their sentence on probation as opposed to in prison.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Issues With The Rhode Island Age Of Consent?

If you have violated Rhode Island’s age of consent laws, you should seek a Rhode Island criminal lawyer immediately. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options according to Rhode Island law, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.