Rape is one of the most serious and damaging crimes to be accused of. Many people who are charged may be confused as to why, especially in cases involving drugs or alcohol or when they genuinely believed that the sexual intercourse was consensual. This is why it's important for people who have been accused of rape to immediately consult with an attorney who can vigorously defend them in court and work towards salvaging their reputation.
For the purposes of this article, we will address (1) what actions constitute as rape in Pennsylvania, (2) and the penalties that may be imposed if a person is convicted of this crime.
What constitutes rape in Pennsylvania?
A person will be convicted of rape if it is proven that they forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. The following actions constitute rape in the state of Pennsylvania:
- An alleged victim is prevented from resisting the act due to a defendant's threats of force or actual force
- An alleged victim is unconscious or unaware that the sexual intercourse is ensuing
- An alleged victim has consumed impairing substances like drugs or alcohol to the extent of incapacitation, making them unable to consent to sexual intercourse
- An alleged victim has a mental disability, making them incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse
In these cases, the most effective defense is proving that a plaintiff consented to the sexual intercourse. So it's important that defendants understand the concept of consent. It is not to be assumed by silence, an established relationship, body language, appearance, marriage or any actions outside of an affirmative gesture or verbal affirmation. Consent can also be revoked. An example of revoked consent is when an alleged victim changes their mind halfway into a sexual act.
According to Pennsylvania law, rape is classified as a first degree felony - the most serious felony that a person in the state can be charged with. Upon conviction, a person will face penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
In rape cases involving children under the age of 13, a defendant may be facing a prison term of up to 40 years.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
When you are charged with rape, you will be up against an eager prosecutor who will be determined to make an example out of you, and a society that believes that you did it before you are proven guilty. You need the help of an attorney who will be dedicated to protecting your rights, and fighting aggressively in court. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been in your shoes, so he understands all that is at stake. Contact him today for help.