North Carolina Sexual Assault Laws

Sexual assault is commonly defined as any offense in which the defendant subjects one or more victims to unwanted and offensive sexual acts, which includes everything from groping to rape.

What Are the Sexual Assault Laws in North Carolina?

North Carolina sexual assault laws and crime classifications are identical to the state's rape laws, with one key difference. North Carolina still defines rape as involving vaginal penetration, while forced anal penetration is charged as "sexual offense." For either charge, conviction can result in anywhere between 44 months to life in prison.

Different Degrees of Rape

In North Carolina, there are two (2) separate degrees of rape.

First-Degree Rape: A person forces the victim to have non-consensual sex, and either possesses a deadly weapon, inflicts serious injury upon the victim, or is aided by one or more other persons. Furthermore, statutory rape is also considered a first degree rape charge and can occur when a victim was younger than 13 years old, and the defendant was at least 12 years old, and at least four (4) years older than the victim.

Second-Degree Rape: A person forces a victim to have non-consensual sex, and the victim is incapable of giving consent because of a mental disability or incapacitation, or physical helplessness.

The basic provisions and classifications of North Carolina's sexual assault laws are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Sex Crimes section for additional resources.

Code Section North Carolina General Statutes ยง 14-27.21, et seq.
Definition of the Crime

A person commits a sexual offense by engaging in a sexual act with another person by force and against the will of the other person; or with another person who lacks capacity, either mentally or physically, and the defendant knows or reasonably should know.

Classifications / Penalties

First degree sexual offense (victim is under 13 years old; or defendant either uses a dangerous weapon, inflicts serious injury, or is aided and abetted by one or more other people): Class B1 felony; 144 months to life in prison.

Second degree sexual offense (sexual act committed by force and against the will of the other person; or against someone who lacks mental or physical capacity, such as someone who is mentally defective): Class C felony; 44 to 182 months in prison.

Defenses Consent; insanity; actual innocence

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a North Carolina sex crime attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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North Carolina Sexual Assault Laws: Related Resources

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Being convicted of a sexual assault crime in North Carolina can result in serious consequences such as incarceration and irreparable damage to your reputation. Anytime you are facing such possible outcomes, it is in your best interests to hire a skilled defense attorney who can work diligently on your behalf. Take control of your case. Get started today with a free and confidential initial case review by a North Carolina attorney.

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