Degrees of Offense

Rape, which is one type of sexual assault, is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse that can be committed by a person on a male or a female of any age. The offender, called a rapist, uses force or violence in order to have control over another person. In some occasions, a rapist uses alcohol or illegal drugs to impair his/her victim so as to render (the victim) incapable of fighting back.

Regardless of who the offender is, a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, a friend, a family member or a spouse, so long as it is forced and unwanted, then the act shall be considered as a crime.

A rape charge alleges any of the following:

• Force was applied;
• The victim has a physical or mental condition that renders him/her incapable of expressing consent; and,
• The offender is in a position of authority and uses this authority to coerce the victim to submit to his/her malicious intents.

If the act is committed against a person under a certain age, then the offense committed would be “rape of a child” or “statutory rape” (this is due to the fact that the alleged victim’s lack of ability to consent is established by statute).

A “rape of a child” offense is determined based on the victim’s age. Based on age, rape of a child falls under three degrees:

1) Rape of a child in the first degree. This is the crime (a felony) committed if the victim is under the age of 12 (and not married to the offender) and the offender is at least two years older than his/her victim. Maximum possible sentence for this crime is life imprisonment.

2) Rape of a child in the second degree. A person will be charged with rape of a child in the second degree if he/she has sexual intercourse with another who is 12 or 13 years old and not married to the offender; the offender should be at least three years older than the victim. This crime is also a class A felony.

3) Rape of a child in the third degree. A person who has sexual intercourse with another who is either 14 or 15 years old and not married to him/her can be charged of this crime, which is a class C felony. The offender should also be at least four years older than his/her victim.

As explained in the website of Horst Law, though rape of a child is a Class A felony, state law mandates that the minimum prison sentence for a conviction on this charge be 25 years rather than the 15 stipulated under the sentencing guidelines for Class A felonies. In addition, anyone convicted of this crime may be subject to enhanced requirements for probation or parole. The aggravated form of this charge applies to offenses committed against a child aged three years or less. Though the aggravated form is a Class A felony, the offense is categorized in such a way that the minimum prison sentence will be 40 years if the defendant is convicted.

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