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Rape: Definitions, Penalties, and Collateral Consequences

One of the most difficult charges to explain to family and friends is when you are charged with Rape. We have MANY clients who were either out on a date or in a relationship that went bad and now have found themselves charged with this crime for what they deemed to be consensual sex.

There is a stigma surrounding anyone accused of Rape which can lead to strain on your relationships with family and friends, termination from employment, and being held in custody pending trial. We understand how difficult it is to not only navigate the court system but to also explain this type of charge to those closest to you. At Sweeney & Associates we pride ourselves on zealously representing you and helping you deal with the all the attendant issues that come with it.

There are many different Rape-related charges in Massachusetts and the charge you face will be based on the factors involved in your case. If you are convicted, then the punishment you receive will also depend on the specific charge you face. To be convicted of any Rape-related offense, there must be sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse and penetration.

What is sexual intercourse?

Most people know the answer to this question but it is important to define it for purposes of Rape charges. Sexual intercourse means the traditional penile-vaginal intercourse.

What is unnatural sexual intercourse?

Unnatural sexual intercourse means oral and anal intercourse including cunnilingus, fellatio, and digital penetration. It also includes the penetration of a person’s genital or anal opening with an object. It is not required that the victim be the one who was penetrated. You can still be charged with rape even if you were the one the sex act was performed on.For example, a man can be charged with Rape if a child performs oral sex on him.

Penetration

In the legal context, penetration means something different from the common understanding. For example, the law considers it to be penetration if a thirty-year-old man touches the vagina of a ten-year-old girl with his penis even if he does not actually insert his penis into her vagina. The touching of her vulva or labia qualifies as penetration under the law.

Rape Generally

The statute provides that “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person, and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury, shall be punished….”

If you are convicted under this definition ofRape, you face up to 20 years in state prison. If it is a second or subsequent offense, you face life in prison or any term of years.

Rape Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury

The statute provides that “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person, and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury and if either such sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse results in or is committed with acts resulting in serious bodily injury…shall be punished….”

If you are convicted under this definition of Rape you face up to life imprisonment or any term of years.

Rape of Child Under 16

The statute provides that “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a child under 16, and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury, shall be punished…”

If you are convicted of Rape of Child Under 16 you face up to life in prison or any term of years.

Rape and Abuse of Child a.k.a. Statutory Rape

If you are charged with Statutory Rape, the official charge title on your criminal record will be Rape and Abuse of Child. The statute provides “Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age, shall be punished…”

If you are convicted of Statutory Rape you face up to life in prison or any term of years but in some cases you can also be sentenced to any number of years in a jail or house of correction.

Importantly in this type of case consent is irrelevant. A person under 16 years old is deemed legally incapable of consenting to intercourse. It does not matter that you thought the person was over 16. For example, Joe meets Sarah, age 15, in a 21 plus nightclub. They go back to Joe’s house and have intercourse. Joe can still be charged and convicted of Statutory Rape even though he reasonably believed Sarah was over 16 years old because she was in a club that she had to be 21 to enter.

This type of charge is also common in juvenile court. If a seventeen-year-old boy engages in sexual intercourse with his fifteen-year-old girlfriend, he will suddenly find himself facing charges of statutory rape. There have also been instances where two fifteen-year olds engage in sexual intercourse. The boy will be charged with statutory rape while the girl is not. While this seems unjust, and it is, it happens more frequently then people know. Never assume that just because both teenagers are under 16 years old neither one will be charged. This is a conversation every parent should have with their children especially their sons.

Aggravated Statutory Rape

Aggravated Statutory Rape charges come into play when there is an age difference between the two people who had intercourse. There are three kinds of aggravated statutory rape:

  • The victim is under 12 years old and there exists a 5-year age difference between them
    • For example, Robbie is 17 and Joey is 11.
  • The victim is between 12 and 16 years old and there exists a 10-year age difference between them
    • For example, Leila is 25 and Jacob is 14.
  • The accused was a mandated reporter.
    • For example, Janice is the school guidance counselor and James is a junior in high school.
    • Mandated reporters include physicians, psychologists, dentists, teachers, guidance counselors, child care workers, probation officers, parole officers, foster parents, priests, rabbis, or leaders of a church.

If you are convicted of Aggravated Statutory Rape you face at least ten years in prison and up to life in prison.

Assault with Intent to Commit Rape

The statute provides “Whoever assaults a person with intent to commit a rape shall be punished…” If you are convicted of Assault with Intent to Commit Rape you face up to 20 years in state prison or up to 2.5 years in the house of correction. If it is a second or subsequent offense, you would face up to life in prison or any term of years.

Nuisances in Massachusetts Law

First Person Told About Sexual Assault

In Massachusetts, the first person told about the sexual assault is allowed to testify whether that person happens to be the victim’s friend, teacher, counselor, or police officer. The witness, known as the First Complaint, can testify to all the details the victim told them. The courts have determined that by allowing this testimony it will help a jury decide whether or not the victim’s allegations should be believed.

Intoxication

Massachusetts has a double standard when it comes to intoxication. A victim who has ingested too much alcohol can be deemed incapable of consenting to intercourse. The accused, however, cannot claim diminished capacity as a result of intoxication. This often comes into play for college students. Let’s say John and Donna go out drinking. John has ten beers and Donna has eight beers. They later have sexual intercourse. Donna can allege she was too drunk to consent to sex. John, on the other hand, cannot argue he was too drunk to understand that Donna was incapable of consenting to sex.

Collateral Consequences

Anyone convicted of Rape-related charges will face certain collateral consequences. In addition to a possible prison sentence, if you are placed on probation or parole you will have to wear a GPS electronic monitoring bracelet for the entire time. You will also be required to register as a sex offender with the Sex Offender Registry Board. The law also requires you to provide a DNA sample which will be entered into a database to see if it matches any unsolved crimes and will remain in the database to compare to any crimes committed in the future.

Most Important Thing for You to Do

Never make any statements to the police. Once you have been accused of a sexual assault, the police will contact you whether by phone, showing up to your home or to your work. The police may place you under arrest, read you your Miranda rights, and then question you or they could ask you to have a friendly conversation to “clear things up.” Nothing you say will change whether you are going to face charges. Once you have been accused of Rape, you will most likely face criminal charges. Any statements you make to the police will be introduced in court against you and will likely lead directly to your conviction. Do not provide evidence against yourself. The police’s only job is to make arrests and secure convictions, not to exonerate you.

Contact us right away if you or someone you know has been charged with Rape or if you think you may be charged with Rape. The sooner we get involved, the better the outcome of your case. At Sweeney & Associates, we are frequently representing clients charged with sex crimes. If you are facing charges, we can help you! Contact us at Sweeney & Associates today for a free consultation. You can contact us at (617) 328-6900 or reach us by email at mail@rsweeneylaw.com.

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