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New York Rape Laws

Overview of New York Rape Laws

New York recognizes and punishes three degrees of rape. A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person: (a) by "forcible compulsion" - compelling the victim through the use of physical force or the threat of immediate death, physical injury or kidnapping; (b) who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless; (c) who is less than 11 years old; or (d) who is less than 13 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or more. Section 130 of the New York Penal Code provides that "sexual intercourse" has its ordinary meaning and occurs upon any penetration, however slight. First-degree rape is a class B felony.

A person commits second-degree rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person: (a) who is less than 15 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or more; or (b) who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated. A person is guilty of rape in the third degree - the lowest degree of the offense - when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person: (a) who is incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than 17 years old; (b) who is less than 17 years old, and the defendant is 21 years old or more; or (c) without such person's consent, which is withheld for some other reason than incapacity to consent.  

A person less than 17 years old is deemed "incapable of consent" for purposes of the laws regarding criminal sex offenses. However, the statute also provides that it is a defense to a victim's lack of consent based solely on his or her incapacity to consent because he or she was less than 17 years old or mentally disabled that the defendant was married to the victim at the time.

Defenses to Rape Charges

  • Lack of knowledge of victim's incapacity to consent based on a mental disability, mental incapacitation or physical helplessness
  • Valid medical or health care purpose
  • Defendant was less than four years older than the victim at the time of the act (for second-degree rape)
  • Client or patient consented to conduct after being informed that such conduct was not performed for a valid medical purpose (for third-degree rape)
  • Spouse of victim (where victim was deemed incapable of consenting due to age, mental health, or other specified restrictions)

Penalties and Sentences

All three degrees of rape are felony offenses and range from class B to class E felonies. These offenses carry sentences of 5 to 25 years of imprisonment for first-degree rape and a maximum of up to 4 years in prison for third-degree rape. The court may also impose a fine of up to $5,000 for a felony offense.

New York Rape Statute

Sex Offenses
Penal Code Sections 130.25 - 130.35

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a New York criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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