In the United States, there are thousands of rapes reported each year. Women are much more common victims, with about 90% of total cases, as opposed to only 10% for men. Many cases also involved the use of drugs, which is most often alcohol. In nearly half of all cases both the victim and the perpetrator were under the influence of alcohol.
Rape is defined differently by each state. In Massachusetts, there are three elements that define what a rape is. The first of these is when any object penetrates any orifice. The second of these is the use of force or the threat of force against the victim. The third element is the non-consensual sexual contact of the victim. Consent cannot be legally given if the victim is impaired, under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, underage, unconscious, sleeping, or mentally challenged. It is defined as the clear permission between the involved parties that the acts that are happening are okay with both parties and safe. It must be of each party’s own free will, meaning that they cannot consent under pressure or influence. In this same line of thought, coercion is not permitted. This is using emotional manipulation as a means to persuade someone into doing something they are not comfortable doing. Coercion is most common in date rapes, and is not equivalent to consent.
United States rape crimes fall under dual sovereignty, meaning that if the crime was committed in a state that same state has jurisdiction. There are exceptions, such as when the victim is a federal official or ambassador, or national security is involved when the federal government has jurisdiction as well.
There are two main categories of rape: stranger rape and date rape. Stranger rape is when an unknown attacker committed the crime. It accounts for about 25% of reported cases. On the other hand, date rape occurs when the victim knows the attacker. In these cases, the victim may not call what happened a rape because they knew the person. This accounts for about 75% of reported cases.
There are many crimes that are related to rape. One of these is sexual abuse, which is inappropriate sexual conduct involving a minor. Another of these is sexual harassment, which is unwanted sexual behavior, either verbal or physical. This often occurs in the workplace. Battering consists of many verbal, psychological or physical methods a person uses in order to gain control over another. It is most often found in intimate relationships, known as partner violence, or family relationships, known as domestic violence. Heterosexism is the wrongful treatment of LGBT people by our heterosexually-dominated culture. This is where homophobia comes from. Lastly, Massachusetts General Law defines stalking as a crime that happens when someone “willfully and repeatedly follows and harasses another person and who makes a threat with the intent to place a person in fear”. This fear is for their own safety in most cases. Stalking can consist of following a person around, calling their phone, or online harassment thru email and instant messages.
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The Parker | Scheer LLP Criminal Practice Group is led by Boston Criminal Lawyer Francis T. O’Brien Jr. who defends criminal cases in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. Criminal Courts served include Cambridge District Court, Cambridge, MA – Boston Municipal Court, Boston, MA – Brockton District Court, Brockton, MA – Framingham District Court, Framingham, MA – Waltham District Court, Waltham, MA.
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