If You Are Accused Of Rape

It goes without saying that rape is a heinous crime. Many states, including New York, take rape charges very seriously. The state of New York categorizes and prosecutes rape in three degrees depending on the circumstances of the crime. If you are charged with rape in Suffolk County, Nassau County, or in any of the five boroughs, get legal representation immediately and contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer. In the state of New York:

  • First-degree rape is rape by “forcible compulsion,” the rape of someone who is physically helpless, the rape of someone less than 11 years old, or the violation of someone less than 13 years old by a person age 18 or older. First-degree rape is a class B felony in New York, and if convicted, you could be sent to prison for as much as 25 years and fined up to $5,000.
  • Second-degree rape is the violation of someone less than 15 years old by someone 18 or older, or the rape of someone who is mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated. Second-degree rape is a class D felony in New York, and if convicted, you could end up in prison for up to 7 years and be fined up to $5,000.
  • Third-degree rape is the rape of someone who is incapable of consent for a reason other than being less than 17 years old or the violation of someone less than 17 by someone 21 or older. Rape in the third degree is a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in a New York state prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Anyone less than 17 is considered “incapable of consent” under New York law (unless that person is married). While no guarantee can ever be made regarding the outcome of any specific criminal case, your best hope for justice if you’re charged with first, second, or third-degree violation is to contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Statutory Rape

The news media love these stories. An attractive female teacher is accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a much-younger male student. The news stories are titillating, and the late-night TV comedians always have a smart-alecky comment. But if you’re a teacher – male or female – or in another professional position where you work with children, and you are accused of a sex crime with a minor, you have a lot to lose, beginning with your freedom. Anyone in the New York City area who is charged with a sex crime involving a minor will need to retain top-notch legal help immediately. Even if you’re only suspected or under investigation for a sex crime, call an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney at once. Prosecutors are zealous to convict sex crime suspects; you’ll need an equally zealous advocate acting on your behalf. 

In some of these cases, when the cell phone and computer records are scrutinized, the evidence of a crime can be overwhelming. In those cases, a good criminal defense lawyer can usually introduce extenuating circumstances and help clients reach the best possible plea arrangement. But in other cases, teachers and other professionals are falsely accused of sex crimes, and it takes a skilled, aggressive defense advocate to challenge the evidence and discredit the accusation.

You would think the law against statutory rape would be simple and straightforward, but in the state of New York, it isn’t. If you’ve been accused of statutory rape, or even if you’re only suspected of the crime, it’s important to understand the law and to understand your rights.

The law looks simple enough at first. For adults, it’s against the law to have sexual intercourse in New York with a minor under seventeen. Even if the minor “consents,” the law states that those under seventeen cannot actually legally consent, so the crime in such instances is called “statutory” rape. If a person twenty-one or older has intercourse with a minor under seventeen, in New York it’s usually a Class E felony, and the charge is usually statutory violation in the third degree. A conviction can lead to four years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

Beyond this basic standard, the law gets complicated. Anyone eighteen or older who has sexual intercourse with anyone under fifteen can be charged with statutory violation in the second degree, a class D felony that can lead to seven years in prison and a fine of $5,000. And anyone – anyone – having intercourse with a minor under the age of eleven, or anyone eighteen or over having intercourse with a minor under the age of thirteen, may be charged with statutory rape in the first degree, a class B felony. Statutory rape in the first degree can be punished in New York by up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $30,000.

The state of New York takes statutory violation seriously, and leniency is seldom offered to those convicted of the crime. Without regard to the degree, you could be facing mandatory, long-term incarceration if you are convicted of statutory rape in New York. If you are charged or even suspected of this crime, it’s absolutely imperative that you speak at once with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Anyone – anyone – facing this charge simply must have the help of a good criminal defense lawyer. An experienced criminal defense attorney will evaluate your case, give you the legal advice you need, and diligently defend you in court.

Hire A Long Island Sex Crimes Attorney

Sex crimes really are considered heinous and really are prosecuted aggressively in New York. If you are accused of any sex crime in or near New York City, don’t rely on a public defender to handle your case. There is too much at risk to put your future in the hands of someone who does not have experience successfully defending sex crimes defendants. Get the aggressive defense representation you’re going to need and call an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner that you hire a criminal defense attorney, the more favorable the outcome may be for your case.

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Consent, Intoxication and Date Rape in New York

You don’t actually have to be on a date with someone in order to be charged with date rape against the person in New York. Identified as distinct from traditional violation, date rape typically involves the voluntary or involuntary intoxication of the victim. The reason why sex with a person who is intoxicated can become a case of date rape is because the law generally invalidates consent for sex when it is given during a state of intoxication. New York law presumes that one who is intoxicated does not have the mental capability to form valid consent. Therefore, even the fact that an alleged victim did provide consent may not be a defense to a date rape charge down the road.

Consensual vs. Non-Consensual Sex

When intoxicated, a victim does not have the mental awareness to legally consent to sexual activity.  An inability to protest sexual advances because of intoxication is not de-facto consent.  The fact that intoxication renders a victim unable to protest sexual contact carries the same weight as if the victim had plainly and of sober mind refused the contact.  However, alleged date violation offenders can also face charges if the victim does give consent while under the influence of drugs or alcohol but revokes the consent later.  In this case, affirmative consent, given under the influence, may be found equal to lack of consent by New York courts.

Unfortunately, date violation is a very difficult accusation to prove and disprove.  The primary problem is that, when the sexual contact occurs, it is typically between the two individual parties, without any other witnesses or testimony to be considered.  As one might imagine, this creates a “he said” / “she said” scenario that the court must dissect in order to uncover the truth.  Even more unfortunate is that this difficulty of provability has led to some people using the claim of date violation as a tool of revenge or against someone whom the alleged victim simply regrets having sex with later.

The best way to avoid a false claim of date rape is to simply avoid mixing large amounts of drugs or alcohol in a social setting where sex may result.  If it is too late to take this advice, and the accusation of date rape has already been made, the alleged offender in New York is urged to immediately contact an experienced date rape attorney for help.

Despite what a public defender may advise, pleading guilty to a charge of date rape is generally not a good idea.  Doing everything possible to move on past the allegations and put the experience behind them is understandable, but can have major negative implications on offenders, including jail time and the loss of certain rights and privileges granted to other New York residents.  Instead, an experienced date rape attorney should be consulted as soon as possible following any accusations.

Date Rape Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a particular date violation allegation may be charged as a first, second, or third-degree rape:

  • Rape in the first degree is a Class B felony, the most serious rape charge. It is rape by force or compulsion, or where the victim is unable to consent, or is younger than 11, or younger than 13 if the perpetrator is over 18.
  • Rape in the second degree is a Class D felony. It is the rape of someone younger than 15 by someone over 18, or intercourse with someone unable to consent because of mental incapacity.
  • Rape in the third degree is intercourse with someone less than 17 (and thus incapable of consent), or intercourse with someone unable to consent for some reason other than mental incapacity.

All three of these charges carry serious consequences and should never be taken lightly.

Avoiding Charges

Perhaps the best way to avoid criminal date violation charges in New York is to avoid situations where drugs or alcohol will be served. The biggest factor in any date violation charge will be the intoxication of the party alleging the offense. If you don’t put yourself in a sexual situation with someone who is intoxicated, then you can never be convicted of date rape.

Unfortunately, avoiding certain situations is not always possible. Therefore, it is in your best interest to know how to respond to accusations of date violation if you ever find yourself facing such charges.

Above All, Exercise the Right to Remain Silent

No matter the specific facts and circumstances revolving around an allegation of date rape, it is best for you to avoid answering questions or making comments about the incident to any police investigators. At first contact with police, you should express your desire to exercise your right to remain silent. Unless you make it known that you would like to exercise the right to remain silent, then any silence which you maintain during questioning by police may actually be used against you at trial. This is allowed because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the protections of the 5th amendment (the one that protects against self incrimination) do not become “active” until a rights advisement is made by a police officer or until the person talking to police clearly invokes the right.

The reason why a person who is accused of date rape in New York should exercise the right to remain silent during police contact is because it is easy for a police officer or investigator to misunderstand or misreport what you are trying to say. Further, trying to keep the facts straight under police pressure and the threat of criminal charges is not something that many people will find easy to do – even if they are absolutely innocent of any offenses.

Let an Attorney Help

A New York criminal defense attorney can help you tremendously if you are ever accused of date rape. The attorney will screen any and all questions from investigators and will argue your innocence on your behalf. If you are convicted of date rape, you can expect to spend some time behind bars and to have a very difficult time adjusting to life after the charges, which is why you can’t afford to face such serious charges without an attorney’s help.

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