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New York Rape Laws

Non-consensual sexual intercourse committed against the victim through physical force or some other duress (including threats or use of drugs) is referred to as rape. Statutory rape, while seemingly consensual, occurs when someone over the age of consent has intercourse with a minor. Since minors cannot legally consent to sex, it is considered rape through strict criminal liability. Some states use the term "sexual assault" in reference to rape.

New York Rape Laws: Overview

New York recognizes and punishes three degrees of rape, ranging in degrees of severity. Section 130 of the New York Penal Code provides that "sexual intercourse" has its ordinary meaning and occurs upon any penetration, however slight.

Additional details about New York's rape laws are listed in the following table:

Statute

New York Penal Code Section 130.25, et seq.

Third Degree Rape

A person is guilty of rape in the third degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person:

  • Who is incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than 17 years old;
  • Who is less than 17 years old, and the defendant is 21 years old or more; or
  • Without such person's consent, which is withheld for some other reason than incapacity to consent.
Second Degree Rape

A person commits second-degree rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person:

  • Who is less than 15 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or more; or
  • Who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated.
First Degree Rape

A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person:

  • By "forcible compulsion" -- compelling the victim through the use of physical force or the threat of immediate death, physical injury or kidnapping;
  • Who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless;
  • Who is less than 11 years old; or
  • Who is less than 13 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or more.
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)
Sentences and Penalties

Third Degree Rape: Class E felony (up to 4 yrs. in prison and up to $5,000 in fines)

Second Degree Rape: Class D felony (1 to 7 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines)

First Degree Rape: Class B felony (5 to 25 yrs. in prison and up to $5,000 in fines)

Note: State laws are constantly changing through the enactment of new statutes, court rulings, and other means. Please contact a New York criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

The Capacity 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.

New York Rape Laws: Related Resources

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Rape is an extreme violation of another individual, and is thus charged as a serious felony with the likelihood of prison time after a conviction. If you have been charged with rape, you will want to put together a strong defense. Get started today with a confidential and free initial evaluation of your case.

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