To address some definitions, very briefly, in Massachusetts rape is a felony offense, articulated in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 22(b). Generally speaking, before any defendant charged with this crime can be convicted, there are two elements to the crime that the Commonwealth (the District Attorney) is required to prove, to a standard of beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with another person. "Sexual intercourse" requires "penetration," which is not what most persons who are not familiar with the law understand it to be. "Penetration" does not have to extensive: The Commonwealth can satisfy this element by simply proving that there was a slight intrusion into the vagina, or that the labia or vulva was even touched by the male sex organ. Additionally, proof of penetration by a foreign object is enough to satisfy this element. Further, rape can be accomplished via insertion of the fingers into the vagina. This is known as "digital rape." Also, at least according to state law in Massachusetts, "rape" can be found if a defendant engaged in oral sex with the victim. Oral and anal sex remain classified as "Unnatural sexual intercourse."
- That the defendant compelled the alleged victim to submit to such sexual intercourse (as defined partially above,) by force or against her or his will. "Force" is most commonly defined as the threat of bodily injury, or actual bodily injury, or a threat to harm someone else other than the alleged victim. "Force" does not always have to include physical force. Even a defendant's appearance or the general manner in which he allegedly presented himself to the victim could qualify as "force." While fraud does constitute force, it does impact the issue of consent. So, if someone were to induce another person into having sex with him (or her) based upon material misrepresentations (such as, for example, that he was a Rockefeller and would marry her if the two had sex, or that he had the power to hire the victim for an important job ,) such fraud would not constitute force. However, it could vitiate (remove) the element of consent. This is why drugging someone in order to have sex with them is considered "rape": The victim's capacity to exercise free and knowing consent is removed from the act.
Not surprisingly, the issue of consent is almost always a centrally disputed factual issue in the majority of rape cases. When this is the case, the defendant's actions are judged by an 'objective' standard. This means that if a jury determines that the defendant reasonably possessed a good faith belief that the alleged victim was consenting, he cannot legally be found guilty of rape.
Importantly, whether or not a defendant and the alleged victim were married, dating, or in a relationship will not preclude a charge, or a potential conviction, of rape or unnatural sexual intercourse.
A first conviction on a charge of rape is punishable by up to 20 years in state prison. For a second or subsequent conviction, the punishment can be up to life in state prison. For any conviction of rape involving the use of a firearm or gun, there is a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence. A judge has no discretion in such as case as to sentencing: The minimum is ten years in state prison.
Don't Make a Mistake In Your Choice of Attorney
If you or someone you care about is facing a charge of rape or sexual assault in Massachusetts, you probably have a hundred questions to ask. Contact us for a free consultation. We can help you decide what, legally, you need to do. Anyone charged with rape in Massachusetts, or any other sex offense, is going to need the best legal defense that can be secured. Do not engage in "guessing games" or choose a defense lawyer lightly here: These type of criminal charges demand an attorney that is expert-level qualified, and who has defended these cases successfully for many years. If you're facing these kinds of charges, you're at a critical decision point. Make the wrong choice of attorney, and you may find yourself in prison for something you may not be legally guilty of. Don't take chances here. Contact us for a free initial consultation. We can help you realize what your legal options are; what your chances for success are, and we can also guide you to mental health services if treatment is appropriate.
If you're in this kind of a legal crisis, things are already bad enough. Take control of this situation, or it will take control of you. Contact us for a free consultation. We can provide you with the best, most aggressive legal defense possible.