How Rape Is Defined Legally

In every state, rape is considered to be a very serious sex crime that is committed when nonconsensual sexual intercourse is perpetrated via force, fraud, the threat of force, or is committed against a victim who is unconscious or incapable of consenting to the act. It is important to understand how rape is defined under the law, as well as a few commonly asserted defenses, however, anyone who has been accused of rape should contact a local sex crime defense lawyer for case-specific information.

How Rape Is Defined Legally

Every state has its own laws which provide legal definitions as to what acts are deemed rape, but typically, these statutes define the criminal offense of rape as an act of intercourse accomplished with a person under any of some of the following circumstances:

•     The victim is incapable of consenting to the act due to a mental disorder or physical disability.

•     The victim is prevented from resisting by an intoxicant, and the accused knew this.

•     The victim submits to the act under the belief that the person committing the act is someone other than the accused, and the accused intended to induce this belief.

Again, this is only a few circumstances in which the act is considered rape; the full list, in reality, is more extensive. Additionally, rape laws also contain specific statutes that criminalize spousal rape, date rape, statutory rape, oral copulation by force, and forcible penetration with a foreign object.

Commonly Asserted Defenses

Although each rape case is unique, those accused of rape often assert one of the following defenses:

•     I was falsely accused. Innocent people are frequently accused of committing rape, therefore, defendants accused of rape often defend themselves by claiming that the accuser made up false accusations.

•     I thought that the accuser consented. Here the defendant does not deny that they had intercourse with the accuser, but rather insists that they honestly and reasonably believed that the accuser consented to the act.

•     We did not have intercourse. Rape involves “sexual intercourse” so a defendant may argue that the sexual activity they took part in fell short of actual intercourse.

•     The prosecution has presented insufficient evidence against me. In rape cases, the prosecution bears the burden of proving their case. Therefore, defendants accused of rape can sometimes argue that they should not be convicted because the prosecution failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

•     Mistaken identity. A defendant accused of rape can also argue that they did not commit the crime and have fallen victim to a case of mistaken identity.

Do You Need Legal Representation?

If you’ve been accused of a rape crime, you should be aware that if convicted you may be sentenced to serve hard time. Sex crimes are taken very seriously, and it is important that you retain a serious criminal defense lawyer who is committed to protecting your legal rights as soon as possible. You need an attorney who is highly skilled at finding flaws in the cases presented against clients and who is committed to zealously defending the legal rights of their clients, no matter what crimes they have been charged with.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced lawyer, for help in defending against these charges.