Rape is a Felony of the First Degree in Pennsylvania. The definition of Rape can be found in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 3121. In order to be convicted of Rape in PA, sexual intercourse must occur by forcible compulsion or threat of forcible compulsion. The definition of "sexual intercourse" can be found in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 3101. Sexual intercourse can occur in a rape case by vaginal intercourse in the traditional sense, or by oral or anal intercourse. Any penetration, however slight, will suffice, ejaculation is not prerequisite to conviction.Forcible Compulsion and the Consent Defense
The second requirement in a traditional rape case is "forcible compulsion." The definition of "forcible compulsion" can be be found in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 3101. In PA, the definition of "forcible compulsion" is broad. In addition to physical force, emotional and psychological force may count as "forcible compulsion" to convict a defendant of Rape. However, there must be some type of "force" used. For instance, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a man who did not use physical force, but had sex with a woman while she said "no" throughout the encounter could NOT be found guilty of Rape because of the lack of forcible compulsion. Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, 537 Pa 143, 641 A.2d 1161 (1994). Conversely, if the rape suspect were to push the victim or use any type of physical force, this would be enough evidence to convict the defendant of Rape. In PA, there is no requirement that the victim resist the perpetrator, however, a rape defendant may introduce evidence that the encounter was consensual based on a lack of resistance by the victim. The "consent" defense is frequently used by defense attorneys in rape prosecutions. A defendant may introduce evidence of past sexual encounters that the defendant had with the victim to prove that the victim consented to the sexual encounter in question. It is important to note that if defense counsel wishes to introduce any evidence of the victim's past sexual history at trial, he is required to file a written motion with the court at the time of trial or this evidence will be excluded.
Although past instances of sexual contact between the victim and the defendant may be introduced at trial, the Rape Shield Law prohibits a defendant from introducing evidence of the victim's prior sexual history with persons other than the defendant. The purpose of the the Rape Shield Law is to encourage rape victims to take the witness stand without being subject to public embarrassment regarding a promiscuous sexual history.Other types of Rape that are prohibited in Pennsylvania include:
- Statutory Rape
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
- Rape of an Unconscious Person
- Rape of a person with Mental Disabilities
In Pennsylvania, using one's fingers or a foreign object to penetrate a victim against his or her will does not constitute the crime of Rape. These situations encompass the crimes of Aggravated Indecent Assault and Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse respectively.
Rape carries an offense gravity score of 12. This is a high offense gravity score and will elevate the sentence that you receive if convicted. For instance, if you have no prior criminal record and are convicted of Rape, the sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 48-66 months of incarceration.
If you or a loved one face a Rape prosecution, this is your one chance to hire the right attorney. A conviction will change the rest of your life. You will be required to register with Megan's Law for the rest of your life. It is important to hire an attorney that has experience dealing with Rape cases. I have litigated Rape cases on both sides of the courtroom aisle. As a former Assistant District Attorney, I prosecuted Rape cases. I have also defended Rape cases in private practice.
Before you talk with police, contact Jason R. Antoine, Pennsylvania Rape Defense Attorney before it is too late.