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.