Rape in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a crime against the person. Generally, rape is defined as sexual intercourse compelled by force and against the will of the victim. For purposes of a rape prosecution, sexual intercourse is defined as penetration of the victim, regardless of degree. Additionally, acts which do not involve penetration of genital or anal openings or penetration by sex organs, however offensive or alarming they seem, generally do not fall within the meaning of the rape statute.
An offense of Aggravated Rape requires the offense of rape plus certain aggravating factors. Said aggravating factors include the following: the act resulted in or was committed with acts resulting in serious bodily injury; committed during a joint enterprise; or committed during the commission or attempt to commit an assault or an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a victim age 60 or older, armed robbery, robbery of a victim aged 60 or over, kidnapping, burglary offenses, breaking and entering at night, entering without breaking at night or entering during the day time, and carrying dangerous weapons, etc.“By force” and “Against the will of the victim”
While the definition of rape has changed over time, the requirement that the act be by force and against the will of the victim has remained constant for two hundred years. Courts have determined that “by force” and “against the will of victim” are separate elements of the crime, each of which must be independently satisfied in order to convict for rape.
“By force” means that the defendant committed the sexual intercourse by means of physical force, nonphysical force, constructive force (threatening words or gestures and operates on the mind to instill fear in the victim for the defendant to achieve his goal; stated differently, there must be proof that the victim was afraid or that she submitted to the defendant because his conduct intimidated her), or threats of bodily harm, either explicit or implicit (threats of bodily harm, inferred or expressed).
“Against the will of the victim” means that at the time of penetration, there was no consent. Any perception (reasonable, honest, or otherwise) of the defendant as to the victim's consent is not relevant to a rape prosecution.
*In cases alleging multiple incidents of rape against the same victim, the prosecution is not required to prove that the defendant renewed their threats every time they approached the victim in order to establish that the rapes were accomplished by force and against the victim's will.
*The term “threat” as it pertains to the rape statute only requires that the threat engender fear reasonable in the circumstances so that it was reasonable for the complainant not to resist.
Fraudulently obtaining consent = not rape:
Massachusetts Courts strictly apply the requirements of “by force” and “against the will of the victim” in rape cases. In 1959, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts heard a case involving a woman who sought an abortion from a medical provider. The medical provider falsely told the woman that part of the abortion procedure required him to have sex with her, and he then proceeded to have sexual intercourse with the woman. The medical provider was charged with rape, but the court found that sexual intercourse obtained by fraud cannot be found to take the place of the force required by the criminal statute. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts again found that fraudulently obtaining consent to sexual intercourse does not satisfy the “force” element of the rape statute. The 2007 case involved a defendant who posed as a woman’s boyfriend and had sex with her. The woman claimed that had she known the defendant was not in fact her boyfriend, she would not have consented to the sexual intercourse.
Aggravated Rape, i.e. rape resulting in serious bodily injury, committed as part of a joint enterprise, or committed during or in an attempt to commit certain delineated offenses: punishable by life in prison or by imprisonment for any number of years.
Rape generally: punishable by imprisonment for up to twenty years.
Rape generally, second or subsequent offense: punishable by life in prison or by imprisonment for any number of years.Contact us for a free consultation today
A charge of rape is scary and carries a stigma along with it. If you are found guilty of the crime of rape you will have to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board. The SORB provides information on sex offenders to the public; a rape charge carries life-long consequences. Feel free to contact Attorney DelSignore at 781-686-5924 today to discuss your case.