Both law enforcement and society at large consider rape to be one of the most heinous crimes that you can commit. Because of this prosecutors aggressively prosecute those charged with rape. The legal definition of the crime of Rape is having sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent. There are three different degrees of the rape offense. However, each rape charge is a felony, meaning that a conviction would likely result in a sentence of years in prison, a criminal record and registration as a sex offender. Because the stigma of being accused of a sex crime can have long-term damaging effects on your personal relationships and your professional reputation, as soon as you are accused of rape it is important that you contact an experienced Queens Rape Lawyer who will review the facts of your case, support you and aggressively defend you against the charges.
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There are three different degrees of the crime of rape: rape in the third degree, rape in the second degree, and rape in the first degree. Each rape charge has two necessary elements: sexual intercourse and lack of consent. Under the rape statute sexual intercourse means penetration of the vagina with the penis. The amount of penetration is irrelevant. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.00(1). Lack of consent does not only refer to whether or not the victim verbally assented or initiated the intercourse. It also refers to whether or not the victim had the legal ability to consent to sexual intercourse. A person lacks the ability to consent if he or she is physically helpless, suffers from a mental incapacity, suffers from a mental disability, or is so young that he or she does not have the capacity to agree to sexual intercourse. In addition, if you used physical force to compel intercourse, then there was no consent.Degrees of Rape
Rape in the third degree is the least serious rape offense. You will face this charge if you have sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent or with another person who cannot consent. You will also face a third degree rape charge if you have are 21 or older and have sex with a minor. For the purposes of the rape statute, a minor is someone who is less than 17 years old. It is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.25
Rape in the second degree involves having sexual intercourse with someone who is mentally disabled or incapacitated. If you were 18 years or order and have sexual intercourse with someone who is less than 15 years old, you will also face a charge of rape in the second degree. It is a Class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.30.
Rape in the first degree is the most serious rape charge. It involves forcibly having sexual intercourse with another person, or having sexual intercourse with someone who is age 11 or younger. If you are at least 18 years old and have sexual intercourse with someone who is less than 13 years old, you could face a rape in the first degree charge. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.35. It is a Class B felony.Being Arrested for Rape
From the time you are arrested to the time your case goes to trial there are several procedural steps. You will have to booked and arraigned. Your case will have to go before the Grand Jury. There will be several hearings and meetings. The prosecutor may offer you a deal that would allow you to avoid a trial if you agree to plead guilty to a lesser offense. For you the advantage of doing this would be that you would avoid the possibility of being convicted of the original charges and face a stiff sentence, and instead face a lighter sentence. The downside is that if you agree to plea deal then you will be convicted of a crime, maybe even a sex crime and you will have to live with the consequences of being a sex offender. If no agreement can be reached, your case will go to trial and verdict.Defenses to a Rape Charge
Based on the facts of your case, there may be several defenses available that may result in the rape charge being dropped, or may lead to you being found not guilty. For example, if you can show that the other person did indeed consent, then not only is it possible that you will be acquitted, it is also possible that the prosecutor will drop the charges against you. Keep in mind that in addition to agreeing to the sexual intercourse, consent also means that you did not use force, and that the other person did not suffer from a mental disability or a mental incapacity.
If you can show that the prosecutor waited too long to bring the charges against you, you may have a defense based on the statute of limitation. Under the statute of limitations a rape charge must be brought within 5 years of when the rape reportedly occurred. N.Y. Crim. Pro. Law § 30.10. Otherwise, the prosecutor is time-barred from prosecuting you at all for that crime. An exception to this rule is if the person who accused you of rape was less than 18 years old at the time the rape reportedly occurred. The statute of limitations would not begin to run on the date of the incident, but either when the victim turns 18 years old or when the incident is reported to the police.
In cases where the rape charge is based on lack of consent due to age, if you and the other person are married then you have a defense to a rape charge. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.10. It is important to note that even if the marriage was legal overseas, the marriage must be legal in New York for this defense to be valid.Sentence for a Rape Conviction
The sentence you will face for a rape conviction varies depending on the rape charge. If you are convicted of rape in the third degree, a Class E felony, the possible sentence is up to 4 years in prison. If you are convicted of rape in the second degree, a Class D felony, the possible sentence is up to 7 years in prison. Rape in the second degree is a violent felony offense that has a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison. If you are convicted of rape in the first degree, a Class B felony, the possible sentence is up to 25 years in prison. Rape in the first degree is also classified as a violent felony offense that has a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.
In addition to a prison sentence if you are convicted of any rape offense you may also be sentenced to probation. With probation comes detailed rules that restrict your activities. For example, there may be restrictions on who you can associate with, where you can go, and what time you must be home each evening. You will also be required to have a job and support your family. You will not be permitted to leave the jurisdiction without permission. You will be assigned a probation officer to whom you must regularly report. If you do not follow the rules, you may end up in jail.
As a result of being convicted of rape, you will have a criminal record and you will have to register as a sex offender. N.Y. Cor. Law § 168. Having a criminal record with a felony sex crime conviction and being a registered sex offender will make many aspects of your life more challenging, including finding a job. If you are classified as a registered sex offender, even if you are permitted to move to a different jurisdiction, you will be required to register for at least 20 years. Furthermore, if law enforcement concludes that there is good chance that you will re-offend, then your status as a sex offender will be made public.
A rape conviction will affect the rest of your life. You will likely end up in prison for a significant amount of time, losing precious time with your loved ones. In addition being labeled as a felon and sex offender will negatively impact many aspects of your life once you are out of prison. If you are facing a rape charge you should immediately consult an experienced Queens Rape Lawyer. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who are accused of rape as well as other sex crimes such as sexual abuse and criminal sexual act. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of sex crimes in the following locations: