According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. In addition, millions of such rape cases, unfortunately, go unreported each year. While the act of rape is a horrifying occurrence that can never be fully made up for, North Carolina Law thankfully offers protection and compensation to victims who have been raped, and severe penalties for the offenders.
If you are a victim of rape, our Raleigh criminal lawyers at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler, & Thomas are here to help you ensure that justice is served and that you are thoroughly protected in the future. We will do everything in our power to right the wrong that has been committed against you and achieve the most ideal outcomes. On the other hand, if you have been accused of rape, we are also here to provide a superior defense. However, it is important to first understand what constitutes as rape, as well as the other important components of this matter to ensure that you are not tried unfairly. That is why we are here to help you understand your rape case, as well as aggressively represent you throughout the process.
What is Defined as Rape?
In North Carolina, rape is broadly defined as the forcing of vaginal penetration with the absence of consent. While others states do classify forced anal penetration as rape, North Carolina does not and subsequently classifies it as a sexual offense. There are various specific forms of rape, according to North Carolina Statutes § 14-27.21 thru 14-27.25, Chapter 14 Article 7B:
First-Degree Rape in NC
According to § 14-27.21, the following criteria must be met to be considered first-degree rape:
- A person is guilty of first-degree forcible rape if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person by force and against the will of the other person, and does any of the following:
- Uses, threatens to use, or displays a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article which the other person reasonably believes to be a dangerous or deadly weapon.
- Inflicts serious personal injury upon the victim or another person.
- The person commits the offense aided and abetted by one or more other persons.
Second-Degree Rape in NC:
According to § 14-27.22, the following criteria must be met for second-degree forcible rape in NC:
- A person is guilty of second-degree forcible rape if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person:
- By force and against the will of the other person; or
- Who has a mental disability or who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, and the person performing the act knows or should reasonably know the other person has a mental disability or is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
Statutory Rape in NC:
According to § 14-27.23, an individual commits statutory rape if the individual is at least 18 years of age and engages in vaginal intercourse with a child who is under the age of 13 years old. Or, statutory rape is also committed if an individual, who is more than four but less than six years older than the victim, engages in vaginal intercourse with an individual who is 15 years of age or younger. Force is not a direct requirement in this case, as it is unlawful to have sex with a minor who is under the age of consent, even if the minor consents to the act. In most cases, the age of consent is typically between 16 and 18 years.
What Legal Action Can Be Taken Against Rape?
Individuals who have been the victim of rape must turn to litigation to compensate for this wrongdoing. During the trial, the victim must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were raped by the defendant. If this is successfully done so, the rapist will be charged with a specific penalty depending on their criminal history and the form of rape committed.
Victims of rape can also file a civil sexual assault lawsuit against their perpetrator. Rather than filing a lawsuit for the assault or rape itself, the victim can file for an intentional tort, which is defined as any wrongful act which caused harm to the victim. Examples of intentional torts which one can sue for are:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- False imprisonment
While no amount of money could ever compensate for what a victim suffered, a successful lawsuit can result in compensation for the injuries and distress involved. The exact amount is determined by several different factors, such as the severity of the situation and the resulting trauma.
What are the Legal Ramifications of Rape?
Rape charges vary depending on the form of rape committed, the defendant’s criminal history, and the severity of the situation. The legal ramifications of the different forms of rape in North Carolina are as follows:
- Individuals who have committed first-degree rape are charged with a Class B1 felony. A Class B1 felony charge comes with 144 months to life in prison.
- Individuals who are charged with second-degree rape will receive a Class C felony, which results in 44 to 182 months in prison.
- Individuals who are charged with statutory rape will face either a Class B1 or Class C felony, depending on the individual situation.
If only a civil sexual assault lawsuit is filed, the legal ramifications of such charges are compensation for the victim’s distress or injuries, such as payments to cover medical or therapy bills. The specific amount is determined by the judge.
What Do I Do if I Am Accused of Rape?
If you have been accused of rape, immediately seek legal assistance. Dealing with rape charges is a serious matter, and the outcome of those accusations can be life-changing. That is why receiving help from a legal professional is crucial. Our experienced Raleigh criminal defense attorneys at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas will be able to properly defend you, as well as develop the best course of action to minimize the charges. Or, if you are wrongfully accused, we will tirelessly work to prove your innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. The first step is to simply contact our attorneys as soon as possible.
Contact Our Raleigh Defense and Criminal Law Attorneys Today for Assistance with Your Rape Case.
Our Raleigh defense and criminal law attorneys are here to assist you with the entirety of your rape case. If you are the victim of this crime, we will aggressively work to ensure justice is served and that you are thoroughly protected in the future. On the other hand, if you are accused of rape, we will diligently work with you to determine the best course of action. Don’t deal with your rape case alone; contact our Raleigh lawyers today.
Reach out to us now at (919) 615-2473 or complete the contact form below.
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