Date Rape Laws

Rape is a dirty word and one that most people immediately identify with strong emotions. But there are actually a wide range of different types of rape, and date rape is certainly one of them. Massachusetts law focuses on prosecuting rape and sexual assault based on the situation at hand and in the case of date rape a number of specific charges may be filed against the accused.

First, it's worth understanding just what the act of date rape is. Essentially, date rape is a type of sexual assault that occurs when the victim knows the perpetrator. While it's called 'date rape', the term also applies to those who are raped when not actually on a date, but who are victimized by friends, neighbors, or even boyfriends or spouses. Usually, drugs and alcohol are involved in cases of date rape although in other cases it may occur through nothing more than physical force.

When these rapes occur, numerous charges may be filed. These could include sexual assault, lewd conduct, aggravated sexual assault, rape, and much more.

Specific Types of Rape Defined

  • Rape in the state of Massachusetts is defined as sexual intercourse/unnatural intercourse by a person with another person who must submit by force and against his or her will due to threat of bodily injury. A standard rape charge can lead to 20 years in state prison, if you are convicted. If you are convicted again, you can be sentenced to life in Massachusetts state prison.
  • Aggravated rape, also known as rape resulting in serious bodily injury, can be punished by up to life in prison.
  • Rape while armed with a firearm will be punished by at least 15 years in state prison, and life in prison is possible.
  • Drugging a person with the intent of engaging in sexual intercourse carries a punishment of 10 years in state prison. Life in prison is a possibility depending upon one’s criminal history.
  • Statutory rape is sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with someone who is under 16. This may be punished by up to life in prison. Note that not knowing the child was under 16 is not a defense under state law.
  • Statutory rape of a child with aggravated factors: This carries at least 10 years in prison and possibly up to life in prison, depending upon criminal history. Some of the aggravating factors include these felonies: armed burglary; unarmed burglary; entering without breaking; breaking and entering; kidnapping; assault and battery with a deadly weapon; assault with a dangerous weapon; home invasion/ posing/exhibiting a child in state of nudity.

Note that if you are convicted of rape, child rape or indecent assault in Massachusetts, you must register as a convicted sex offender. You will have to provide your personal information to the local police and this data can be made public. This can make it difficult to rent an apartment or buy and home in many areas.

Possible Defenses to Statutory Rape

  • Age of defendant: Massachusetts does have a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ exception that can protect young people from criminal convictions for having consensual sex with a person who is close to their own age.
  • Marriage: Some states allow you to defend yourself against allegations of statutory rape by being married, but there is no such defense in Massachusetts.

These charges can lead to prison sentences from a couple of years up to 20 years or more in prison as well as fines and other penalties. Also, those convicted of the crime will have to register as sex offenders for years or even potentially for the rest of their life. It's a serious allegation and one that can lead to serious long term repercussions.

False Accusations

However, an alarming trend of false accusations is actually on the rise. This is frequently the case on college campuses and in the bar or club scene. Reasons for false accusations vary. In some cases they may be a type of 'revenge' for a breakup or a broken heart. In other cases, the sex could be consensual during the act but one party may lead to regret their actions and often file charges. In some cases, both parties are intoxicated and the act is barely remembered by either person – even though it was consensual.

The rise of false allegations – as well as the increase in cases of true offenses – are on the rise in Boston in particular due to the large influx of college aged students. Date rape often comes down to a 'he said, she said' type situation and when these cases go to trial it can be hard for even a jury to determine the right verdict. For every person who is deserving of a prison term for their heinous actions, another person may stand accused of a crime that they didn't commit. Date rape is actually the one area of sexual assault with the highest percentage of unsubstantiated and false claims.

It's important to note that rape is a serious offense and a despicable act that can have huge negative impacts on those who are victims of it. But at the same time, false accusations can also destroy one's life temporarily or even for good. With that in mind, and with the rising number of these false allegations, date rape remains one of the murkiest and most difficult types of criminal accusations to manage.

However, rape is always a heinous crime and it makes sense to give the victim as much leeway as possible in proving that a crime occurred.

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