Rape Laws

In Massachusetts, rape is legally defined as the penetration of any bodily orifice by any part of the body, or by an object, against the victim’s will, without consent, and under the threat of or actual use of force. However, in cases involving a victim who was unconscious or otherwise unable to consent (e.g. intoxication; mentally impaired), there does not need to be a threat of or actual use of force.

Massachusetts Rape Penalties

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 22 , rape is a felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment in state prison. In addition to prison, the defendant will be on probation following their release, subject to GPS monitoring, and required to register as a sex offender.

Additional conditions of probation will almost certainly include a no contact order, stay away order, and the requirement to comply with any active restraining orders. A violation of any restraining order (209A Order) will result in additional criminal charges and any violation of probation could result in the defendant being sent back to prison.

In Massachusetts, charges of rape are under the final jurisdiction of the superior court thereby requiring a grand jury indictment. In some cases, rather than pursue an indictment, the rape charges may be reduced, amended, or dismissed by the Commonwealth to keep the criminal case in district court.

Mandatory Registration as a Sex Offender

In Massachusetts, a defendant is required to register as a sex offender with the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) after being found guilty of rape. Generally, a conviction for rape carries a lifetime registration requirement as a sex offender.

Additionally, failing to register as a sex offender or lack of compliance with the registration requirements may result in additional criminal charges under M.G.L. Ch. 6 Sect. 178H .

Possible Defenses to Allegations of Rape in MA

In sexual assault cases, there may be a number of available defenses against the allegations. Depending on the facts and evidence in a particular case, below are some potential defenses to rape charges:

False Allegations

In cases where there is limited or no physical evidence, arguing that the allegations are false may be an effective defense, particularly where it can be shown the alleged victim may have a motive to lie or make up the allegations against the particular defendant


This defense can be effective in cases where there is (or isn’t) evidence a sexual assault occurred, the victim did not know the perpetrator, and the identification was made through a photo array, line-up, or other suggestive manner.


Consent can be argued in cases where the defendant and alleged victim know each other (or don’t) and there is physical evidence (e.g., DNA; sperm). With this defense, the defendant is acknowleding there was sex or sexual acts but contending the allegation of rape is false and the alleged victim consented.

Contact Massachusetts Rape Defense Attorney

Allegations of rape or sexual assault can completely damage the accused’s life and carries the potential for serious penalties, including a lengthy prison sentence and lifetime registration as a sex offender. With so much at stake, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner when facing allegations of rape.

Founder of Riccio Law, LLC, Anthony R. Riccio, gained extensive experience handling sexual assault cases during his time as a prosecutor in Bristol County. As a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Riccio represents individuals being investigated for sexual assault and those who have already been charged with a crime involving allegations of sexual assault, including rape.

To schedule a free consultation with Attorney Riccio, click here or call (508) 226-4500 now.