If you’re facing charges of sexual assault or other sex crimes, it’s important to have expert legal representation from a Raleigh criminal lawyer you can trust to fight on your behalf. Laws regarding sex crimes in North Carolina are extremely complex and vary greatly in severity. Many of the charges include variables that change a charge from a misdemeanor to a felony or affect the degree of a misdemeanor or felony. That’s why it’s important to have a clear understanding of the different charges associated with sexual crimes.

Forcible Rape Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, forcible rape is specifically referring to engaging in Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney for Sex Crimesvaginal intercourse with another person without consent. There are two different charges of forcible rape: first degree and second degree.

First Degree Forcible Rape

This is defined by N.C.G.S 14-27.21 as engaging in vaginal interourse by force and without consent and, during the act:

  • Threatens or displays a weapon or article that could be used as a weapon.
  • Causes serious injury to the victim
  • Commits the act while being aided or abetted by at least one more individual.

First degree forcible rape is a Class B1 felony and is punishable with 12 years in prison up to life without parole.

Second Degree Forcible Rape

If a person engages in vaginal intercourse with a person by force and without consent or with a person who is unable to give consent, including someone who is:

  • Developmentally disabled
  • Mentally incapacitated
  • Physically helpless

For example, if the victim is drugged or unconscious and is forced into vaginal intercourse, the accused would be charged with second degree forcible rape. This charge is a Class C felony and is punishable between 44 months up to over 15 years in prison.

Forcible Sexual Offense Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, rape is only charged in the event of vaginal intercourse. For sexual acts  including forced oral sex, anal sex, or sexual penetration using an object, the accused is charged with first or second-degree forcible sexual offense.

First Degree Forcible Sexual Offense

This is defined as N.C.G.S. 14-27.26 as engaging in a sexual act by force and without consent and, during the act:

  • Threatens to use or displays a weapon or item that could be used as a weapon.
  • Causes serious injury to the victim
  • Commits the act while being aided or abetted by at least one more individual.

First degree forcible sexual offense is a Class B1 felony and is punishable with 12 years in prison up to life without parole.

Second Degree Forcible Sexual Offense

If a person engages in a sexual act with a person by force and without consent or with a person who is unable to give consent, including someone who is:

  • Developmentally disabled
  • Mentally incapacitated
  • Physically helpless

For example, if the victim is drugged or unconscious and is forced into oral intercourse, the accused would be charged with second degree forcible sexual offense. This charge is a Class C felony and is punishable between 44 months up to over 15 years in prison.

Statutory Rape and Sexual Offense Laws in North Carolina

Statutory rape means engaging in vaginal intercourse with a person who is deemed by the state to be too young to give informed consent, while statutory sexual offense means engaging in a sex act or sexual activity with someone too young to consent. In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16, meaning a person who is 15 or younger is not considered capable of making sound decisions regarding sexual activity, regardless if they give consent.

All charges of statutory rape and statutory sexual offense carry penalties of a Class B1 felony. The exception is if the defendant is found guilty of engaging in a sexual act or vaginal penetration with someone who is 15 years old or younger and the defendant is between four and six years older than the victim, in which case, it’s a Class C felony.

Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult

If a person who is 18 years old or older engages in vaginal intercourse with a child who is 12 years old or under, they will be charged with statutory rape of a child by an adult in accordance with N.C.G.S. 14-27.23.

First Degree Statutory Rape

This is defined by N.C.G.S. 14-27.24 as a person having vaginal intercourse with a child under the age of 13 but the person charged is over 12 years of age and at least four years older than the victim. For example, a 17 year old having vaginal intercourse with a 12 year old would be charged with first degree statutory rape.

Statutory Rape of a Person Who is 15 or Younger

This charge is brought when an accused person is said to be guilty of engaging in vaginal intercourse with a person who is 15 years old or younger and the defendant is older than 12 and four years older than the person. If the two people are legally married, the accused can not be charged with a crime. For example, a 19 year old having vaginal intercourse with a 15 year old would be convicted of a Class C felony if found guilty.

Statutory Sexual Offense with a Child by an Adult

If a person who is 18 years old or older engages in a sexual act, such as oral sex with a child who is 12 years old or under, they will be charged with statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult in accordance with N.C.G.S. 14-27.28.

First Degree Statutory Sexual Offense

This is defined by N.C.G.S. 14-27.29 as a person committing a sexual act with a child under the age of 13 but the person charged is over 12 years of age and at least four years older than the victim.

Statutory Sexual Offense with a Person Who is 15 or Younger

In accordance with N.C.G.S. 14-27.30, a person is convicted of this offense, when found guilty of engaging in a sexual act with a person who is 15 years old or younger and the defendant is older than 12 and four years older than the person. The only stipulation is if the defendant is legally married to the person.

Sexual Battery in North Carolina

Sexual battery is defined in N.C.G.S. 14-27.33 as “engaging in sexual contact with another person” either by force or without consent. It also includes sexual contact with someone who is incapacitated, physically helpless, or a person with a developmental disability. Sexual battery in North Carolina is a Class A1 Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 150 days in jail and a fine as determined by the judge.

Engaging in Sexual Activity with a Minor in Your Care

North Carolina has specific laws regarding engaging in sexual activity with a minor in your care, regardless of whether the minor is above the age of consent.

Sexual Activity by a Substitute Parent or Custodian

If you are acting as a babysitter, foster parent, step-parent, or have assumed the parental role in the home of a minor, engaging in sexual activity, including vaginal intercourse or a sexual act is a Class E felony.

Sexual Activity with a Student

Teachers, administrators, coaches, or other school personnel can be charged with this Class G felony if engaging in sexual activity with an enrolled student.

Contact a Raleigh Criminal Lawyer to Fight Sex Crimes Charges

If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer in Raleigh immediately. A conviction can negatively affect your life long after you’ve served your sentence. Those who have been found guilty of sexually-related crimes often face difficulty finding employment, a place to live, and their reputation is forever damaged.

Don’t let your future suffer! Call the criminal defense attorneys at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler, and Thomas, LLP at (919) 615-2473 (our Raleigh Office) or (919) 365-6000 (our Wendell Office. You can also fill out our contact form below to request a case review.

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