Legal Definitions of Sex Crime: Forcible Rape and Statutory Rape Defined

Posted by Debra White | Oct 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

Forcible and statutory rape are two serious sex crimes of which a person can be accused. Forcible rape requires a lack of consent, but statutory rape does not.


Every criminal defendant has certain constitutional and legal rights. Included among a defendant's rights is the right to be informed of the charges against him or her. However, just because a defendant is informed of the charges against him or her does not guarantee that he or she will truly understand the underlying statute. Criminal statutes, especially sex crime laws can often be complex and confusing, using legal terms that may not make sense to the average person. Forcible rape and statutory rape are two of the more serious sex crimes of which a person can be accused, and it is important for defendants accused of these crimes to understand what these statutes mean.

Forcible rape is broadly defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse accomplished by force, violence, or threats. Most people think of sex accomplished through violence when they think of rape. However, this definition makes it clear that rape includes sex accomplished through mere threats of violence, as long as the victim does not truly consent. Sex crime lawyers can help explain these nuances in more detail.

Similarly, statutory rape is broadly defined as sexual intercourse by an adult with a minor. The definition of “adult” and “minor” depends on a state's age of consent. For example, the state of California's age of consent is 18, meaning that having sex with a person who is 17 or younger is statutory rape. Whether or not the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the age difference between the adult and minor.

As opposed to the forcible rape statute discussed above, the statutory rape statute does not mention a lack of consent as one of the necessary elements. Although most sex crime laws require the sex to be non-consensual, statutory rape does not. The reason for this is because any person under the age of consent cannot legally consent to having sex. This means that even if the minor and the adult have sex voluntarily, the adult can still be accused of committing statutory rape.

If you find yourself accused of either of these and don't know where to turn, our firm can provide the legal representation you need. We'll clearly explain to you the charges so that you understand and we will work with you to formulate a strategy for defense.


About the Author

Debra White

Attorney Debra S. White is an aggressive and talented trial attorney based in Los-Angeles, California who has successfully represented clients accused of sex crimes in both state and federal courts since 1999. Ms. White is a fierce advocate who enjoys the many challenging aspects of sex crimes defense, including defending against false accusations, faulty memories, and prosecutorial misconduct.


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White Goldstein

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