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Pennsylvania's forcible rape laws

A previous blog post discussed the state's statutory rape laws. Anyone under 16 is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse with an adult. Therefore, force and lack of consent are not elements required to prove statutory rape. However, force and lack of consent are key elements of rape.

Rape is a first-degree felony. An individual may be convicted of rape, if he or she engaged in sexual intercourse with a victim by forcible compulsion; threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent a reasonable person from resisting; drugging the victim; rendering the victim unable to control his or her conduct; and engaging in sexual intercourse with a victim who is unconscious or unaware of what is going on or who suffers from a mental disability, which makes him or her incapable of consent. Individuals convicted of rape may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.

Defendants who used drugs incapacitate their victim face an additional 10-yeart, a fine of up to $100,000 and mandatory sex offender registration. If the victim was under 13, the charge is rape of a child, which has a maximum penalty of 40 years. But, if that crime results in serious bodily injury to the child victim, the perpetrator faces life imprisonment.

Nevertheless, there are several possible defenses to the charge of rape. If a defendant can prove that the alleged victim consented or that no force or threat of force was used, they may be able to avoid conviction. Defendants may also be found not guilty of rape by reason of insanity or if, in extremely rare situations, the defendant's intoxication produced a mental condition of insanity. However, once one is charged or arrested, they should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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