Date Rape Punishment

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 20, 2015 11:20 AM

Date rape is rape. It doesn't matter if you know the victim, whether you took them out on a date, whether they drank during the date, or whether they led you on during the date. Non-consensual sex is rape, no matter what preceded it. And those convicted of date rape face the same penalties as those convicted of raping strangers.

But a prior relationship between the accuser and alleged perpetrator could complicate the determination of guilt. Here are the possible penalties for rape and how the issue of consent arises in cases of date rape.

Rape Punishment

State laws on rape and sexual assault can vary. Both offenses cover non-consensual sexual contact, and the distinction between the two normally comes down to whether or not sexual intercourse occurred. The penalties for rape are generally harsher than those for sexual assault, and most states make rape a felony while some sexual assaults can be classified as misdemeanors.

Those convicted of rape, date or otherwise, are normally looking at multiple years in prison and hefty fines. Sexual assault penalties can increase in cases of multiple rapes or aggravated rape. Victims of rape can also file civil lawsuits against their rapists.

Issues of Consent

The central issue in any rape case is consent -- without it, any sexual contact is illegal, and consent can be a defense to sexual assault charges. A lack of consent can be passive, as in a victim's inability to say "no" to intercourse due to the effects of drugs or alcohol. And, as noted above, rape can occur when the offender and victim have a pre-existing relationship, even when the offender is the victim's spouse. Most rape cases come down to whether there was consent, and determining consent can be a challenge.

To be clear, consent to go on a date is not consent to sex. And consent to some sexual activity is not consent to all sexual activity. Whether, and to what, an alleged rape victim consented is generally up to a jury to decide, but that decision can be harder when the alleged rapist and victim have a prior relationship, especially if it was a sexual one.

If you have been raped, you should report it to the police. If you've been accused of rape or any other crime, speak to a criminal defense attorney.

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