Rape charges are traumatic. If the charges are not defended effectively, the defendant can suffer jail terms and wind up in a sex registry.
If false allegations are not dismissed quickly, they may have devastating effects on the accused’s family and career life.
Think of Kobe Bryant. Talk of his death in the plane crash inevitably revived rape charges from a 2003 accusation. Much as the case was dropped over the victim’s refusal to testify, Bryant was quickly labeled a rapist. Even after his demise, there are multiple articles about the rape accusations – years after the case was dropped. Now those are impacts on a man with tons of wealth. How can a regular person fight rape charges?
Below is a breakdown of what’s considered rape, how the crime is punished, and how you can fight against rape charges.
The Definition of Rape
Rape is a second-degree felony, a crime resulting from unlawful sexual intercourse or sexual penetration of the mouth, anus, or vagina by a:
- Sex organ
- Other body parts
- Foreign object
Rape can occur with or without force. The essential concept is consent.
Willing adults must consent to engage in sexual activities. If they do not or were unable to because of drugs, alcohol, or other physical or mental incapacities, the act is considered rape.
False Rape Accusations Are Common Occurrences
False rape allegations account for roughly 2% of all rape reports. According to statistics, 5-10% of reported rape cases are determined to be unfounded by authorities. (Unfounded means that police and other local authorities have determined the rape incidence never happened.)
However, not all unfounded rape cases are false. In some cases, the victims are coerced into recanting their statements.
The Gray Area of Rape Charges
As far as rape cases go, there are gray areas such as:
- Mixed signals
- Memories delusion by drugs or alcohol
- Misunderstanding of what constitutes rape
- … and so on.
Sometimes, false allegations are a cry for attention, a revenge tactic by an ex-lover, or a cover-up of a seemingly “embarrassing” sexual moment.
For example, in 2009, a female student at Hofstra University accused a group of men of raping her. Only for video evidence to indicate she had consented.
What is the Impact of False Rape Allegations?
Take false rape accusations seriously. After all, such allegations have tragic consequences.
Case point: Brian Barks, a California football star. Barks spent five years in prison after his classmate Wanetta Gibson accused him of rape. Later, Gibson contacted him and admitted she had lied about the whole issue. Banks got exonerated, but he did spend five years in jail – anguishing in emotional pain and hoping that someday the truth will be revealed.
The impacts are worse depending on the age of the victim, injuries sustained, among other factors.
Consequences of Rape Charges in Florida
The punishment for the crime of rape depends on:
- Age of the victim
- Use of force or weapon
- Injuries sustained
In Florida, rape is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by:
- Up to 15 years in jail
- 15 years of sex offender probation
- Up to $10,000 fine
(The minimum punishment is seven years and nine months in jail and two years of probation.)
If the defendant used a weapon, they may be charged with a first-degree felony punishable as follows:
- Up to 30 years jail term
- 30 years sex offender probation
- $10,000 fine
(An aggravated sexual battery with a deadly weapon is a life felony and can lead to life in prison.)
If the victim is a minor (ages 12 to 18 years), a conviction results in a life in prison.
If the victim is a minor (below 12 years), the accused can be charged with life in prison without parole.
Registering as a sex offender has the following consequences:
- Regularly reporting to an officer of the law
- Lost employment
- Trouble finding a job
- Canceled professional license (like a license to practice medicine, law, psychology, etc.)
- Lost custody of children (or only allowed around them under tight supervision)
- Unable to live in specific areas/neighborhoods
- Difficult enrolling in college
Worse still, being accused of rape draws unprecedented publicity, which can further affect your mental state. And as they say, netizens never forget, so your case will linger on the internet forever.
Are There Defenses to Rape?
If you’re accused of rape, your defense is to prove voluntary consent. Note, if permission is given before sex and not during sex, that’s still considered rape. It’s therefore important to contact a rape defense lawyer as soon as possible – before the allegations spread and get out of hand.
Besides consent, here are other concepts you can capitalize on as your defense points.
It’s not unusual for a rape victim to misidentify a rapist. That can be attributed to intoxication. And no, the police line-up does not make it better.
The use of forensic DNA can be confusing too. Esspecially when results are corrupted by poor handling, collection, and preservation techniques.
Non-credibility of victim
If the rape victim is mentally unstable, they may believe you’ve raped them even when the act never took place.
In such cases, consider working with a rape defense lawyer to help navigate the legal tides.
Impotency or physical inability
Any evidence of the defendant’s impotency can serve as a defense point. However, evidence that indicates even the slighted penetration can be charged as rape.
Victims mental incapacity
If the prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant knew that the victim couldn’t consent, that’s a strong defense point.
Case in point: the two parties had been drinking, and the defendant was unaware the victim fell asleep. In such a case, the lack of knowledge is an effective defense point.
Fighting False Rape Accusations? Here are Do’s and Don’ts
If falsely accused of rape, however ridiculous the allegations sound, take them seriously. Contact a rape defense lawyer for guidance on how to navigate the stormy sea.
Engaging a lawyer is paramount and not only for legal advice.
The attorney will help respond to the allegations and guide you on how to proceed against the charges. Besides, a criminal lawyer can determine whether:
- You have an alibi
- The victim is lying or intentionally mistaken
- The existing evidence can help the defendant
- To give information to prosecutor or police
- To voluntarily submit to DNA testing
Besides hiring a lawyer, strive to,
Steer clear of the accuser
Steer clear of the accuser until you can defend yourself legally – failure to increases the chances of more allegations against you.
Wait until you can tell your side of the story in a trial or negotiation.
If you have to interact with the accuser, say, due to employment or child custody arrangements, ensure a third party is present throughout the interactions to serve as your witness.
While at it, limit any conversation between you and the accuser to written communication. Think of text or email. Your communications should only include facts and should not occur on social media- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Keep in mind that anything you do or say can be used against you in a court of law.
False rape accusations are angering and frustrating. Nonetheless, remain calm and focused on the next steps.
Restrain the urge to contact the accuser to redeem or defend yourself, even if it’s an ex-lover or family member. Remain calm and take responsibility for the next steps in the process – all while learning how to protect yourself.
Assess any possible motives
When working with a rape defense attorney, try and assess all the possible motives behind the accusations.
Could it be that your ex wants to get back at you for ending things with them?
If you believe the sexual activity was consensual, evaluate other circumstances surrounding the event. Did the two of you use drugs or alcohol?
Knowing the motive behind the allegations is key to resolving the issue. So dig out those motives – both on your part and that of the accuser.
The silver lining, an attorney can help discover the motives with relative ease.
Detail account of the sexual event
Provide your defense attorney with any detailed account of events revolving around the sexual encounter that led to the rape charges.
Present any evidence you have to the lawyer. Be it clothes, photos, videos, and text messages.
Confide everything with the lawyer, even details you feel are not pertinent. After all, you may never know what information will assist the lawyer in winning your case.
One essential aspect of such details is witnesses. That could be anyone who witnessed the interactions between you and the accuser. Or character witnesses who can corroborate your motives or those of the accuser.
Charged with Rape? Contact Meltzer & Bell P.A.
Discussing your case with a rape defense lawyer helps you learn of the case’s strengths and weaknesses. It also gives you insights into the risks of possible conviction and the associated punishment if found guilty.
The attorney can negotiate a deal for you. Or decide whether it’s best to head to trial. Overall, the lawyer will serve to ensure your best interest are met. If you or your loved one is going through embarrassing and traumatizing rape allegations, contact Meltzer & Bell P.A. to talk about your situation.