Aggravated Rape in Massachusetts
According to Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 265 Section 23, rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person. Aggravated rape is defined as rape with the use of force, threat of force, or while the victim is incapacitated or otherwise unable to give consent.
Aggravated Rape is considered a more severe criminal offense than Rape, as the prosecutor has to prove one additional element beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must prove that the rape resulted in or was committed with acts resulting in serious bodily injury; was committed by a joint venture; or was committed during the commission or attempted commission of another crime to prove the crime of Aggravated Rape.
Punishments For Aggravated Rape Charges
If the act results in serious bodily injury or is committed with other people or during another crime (including assault, assault with a dangerous weapon, robbery or burglary) the offender can be sentenced to life in prison or any term of years. Second-time offenders will not be eligible for furlough, temporary release, or employment programs until they serve two-thirds of their sentence.
If the offender is armed during the crime, they will face at least 10 years in prison, and if they are a repeat offender, they will be imprisoned for life or any term of years, but not less than 15 years.
The punishment for the lesser crime of forcing someone to have sex or unnatural sex by using force or threats of harm is up to 20 years in prison. Second-time offenders face life imprisonment or imprisonment for any term of years.
If found guilty of Aggravated Rape, the offender will be subject to several legal consequences. These include mandatory Sex Offender Registration, submission of DNA to the Massachusetts DNA Database, community parole supervision for life, and the possibility of being civilly committed as a “sexually dangerous person” based on the conviction.
The Prosecution’s Burden of Proof
In a prosecution for aggravated rape in Massachusetts, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The first element is that the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with the victim. The second element is that the victim did not consent to the sexual intercourse, which means that the defendant used force, threat of force, or took advantage of the victim’s incapacity to resist.
Possible Defenses Against Aggravated Rape Charges
- Consent: In some cases, the alleged victim may have given consent to the sexual act, which can be used as a defense against an aggravated rape charge. However, it’s important to note that if the victim is under a certain age (usually 16 or 18), they may not legally be able to consent to sexual activity, so consent would not be a valid defense. Additionally, even if the victim did initially give consent, if they later withdrew that consent and the defendant continued to engage in sexual activity, it could still be considered rape.
- Lack of Intent: In order to be convicted of aggravated rape, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the specific intent to commit the crime. If the defendant did not have the requisite intent, they may be able to argue that they are not guilty of aggravated rape. For example, if the defendant believed that the victim had given consent, they may argue that they did not have the necessary intent to commit rape.
- Mistaken Identity: In some cases, a defendant may be wrongly accused of aggravated rape due to mistaken identity. For example, if the victim did not get a good look at the perpetrator’s face, they may have identified the wrong person. In this situation, the defendant can argue that they are not guilty of the crime because they did not commit it.
- False Accusation: Unfortunately, false accusations of rape do occur. If the defendant can show that the victim made false accusations against them, they may be able to have the charges dismissed. However, proving that the victim made false accusations can be difficult, and it’s important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense.
- Police Misconduct: If the police did not follow proper procedures or violated the defendant’s rights during the investigation, it may be possible to have evidence suppressed or the case dismissed. For example, if the police obtained evidence illegally or coerced a confession from the defendant, that evidence may not be admissible in court. Additionally, if the police violated the defendant’s Miranda rights, any statements they made during the interrogation may be inadmissible. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help identify instances of police misconduct and use them to build a strong defense.
What Are the Steps in Working with a Defense Attorney?
Initial consultation. Schedule an initial consultation with the attorney to discuss your case and ask questions. During this meeting, the attorney will explain the legal process, answer your questions, and provide an assessment of your case.
Hire the attorney. If you decide to hire the attorney, you will sign a retainer agreement and pay the agreed-upon fee.
Case investigation. The attorney will investigate the facts of the case, review evidence, and interview witnesses to build a strong defense.
Pre-trial motions and negotiations. The attorney may file pre-trial motions or negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charges or obtain a plea bargain.
Trial preparation. If the case proceeds to trial, the attorney will prepare for trial by selecting a jury, developing a trial strategy, and preparing witnesses and evidence.
Trial. The attorney will represent you at trial, argue your case, and cross-examine witnesses.
Sentencing. If the defendant is found guilty, the attorney will work to mitigate the sentence by presenting evidence in mitigation and advocating for a fair sentence.
Appeal. If the defendant is found guilty and wishes to appeal, the attorney can help file an appeal and represent the defendant in the appellate court.
Throughout the process, the attorney will communicate with the defendant, answer questions, and provide advice and guidance.
It’s important to note that every case is unique, and the appropriate defense will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. If you are facing an aggravated rape charge in Massachusetts, it’s important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case and help determine the best defense strategy for you. Contact us for a free case evaluation.