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What are the different categories of rape in New York?

Sexual assault and accusations of rape in its varying forms are cropping up regularly today. In New York and across the country more and more people - both men and women - are sharing their stories of being victims. While rape is a terrible crime, accusations against a person do not automatically imply guilt. Given the harsh penalties that can result from a criminal conviction after a rape charge, it is crucial to lodge a strong defense. Part of that is understanding the various laws and degrees under which rape is categorized.

Third degree rape is when a person has sexual intercourse with another person who: cannot consent for a reason or factor apart from being younger than 17; is younger than 17 with the accused 21 or older; or did not give consent for a reason other than incapacity. Second degree rape is when there is sexual intercourse with: someone who is younger than 15 with the accused 18 or older; or a person is not capable of consenting because he or she is mentally incapacitated or disabled. First degree rape is if sexual intercourse occurs due to: forcible compulsion with the threat of death, injury or kidnapping; the person being incapable of giving consent due to being physically helpless; if the person is younger than 11; or if the person is younger than 13 and the accused is 18 or older.

Although these accusations are terrible, there are legitimate defenses that can be lodged. They include: a lack of knowledge as to the incapacity due to disability, incapacitation or helplessness; a legitimate medical or health care purpose; the defendant was less than four years older than the victim if it is a second degree charge; if it is third degree rape and the client or patient consented after being told it was not for a valid medical purpose; or if it was the spouse of the victim who was incapable of consenting.

With a criminal conviction, the penalties for third degree rape will be a Class E felony with up to four years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. For second degree, it is a Class D felony with one to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. For third degree, it is a Class B felony with five to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Given the law and the penalties that a person can face if there is a conviction, it is imperative to lodge a strong defense against the charges and a lawyer experienced in providing criminal defense against accusations of violent crimes can help.

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