Statutory Rape Lawyer in Massachusetts – What Constitutes Rape of a Child?
Statutory rape/the rape of a child in Massachusetts is one of the most serious felonies that can be charged. If you or a family member has been charged with this crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney is needed immediately.
I provide tenacious advocacy at every step in the legal process in fighting for the rights of clients charged with misdemeanors as well as serious felonies, and would invite you to call me at your earliest convenience for a free consultation to discuss your matter. I offer affordable fees, and fixed fees for criminal defense matters.
The Massachusetts Statute for Rape and Abuse of a Child
The Massachusetts statute that provides for statutory rape and rape of a child is set forth in G.L. c. 265, § 23, which is titled “Rape and Abuse of a Child.” While the title of the statute does not contain the words “statutory rape”, this statute nonetheless has such affect, as it prohibits and declares to be a crime certain sexual conduct involving a victim under the age of 16, irrespective of consent.
Charging a Statutory Rape / Rape of a Child
The charge of statutory rape/rape of a child is an easier case for the prosecution to prove than a traditional rape charge, as unlike rape charges involving victims of legal age, in statutory rape/rape of a child cases the prosecution does not need to prove that there was not consent. Instead, all the prosecution needs to prove is that an unlawful penetration occurred, and that the victim was age 15 or younger. It does not matter that the victim allegedly consented to the sex act, because under that statue, any such “consent” is irrelevant.
Can I Avoid Statutory Rape Charges if I Believed that the Person was Age 16 or Older?
In Massachusetts, it does not matter if a defendant believed that the victim was age 16 or older. As a result of the statute, the burden is on a person not to have sexual relations with another person who is not at least age 16 without ensuring that the person is at least age 16.
When are Statutory Rape / Rape of a Child Charges Typically Brought?
Under the law, the prosecution can bring a statutory rape / rape of a child case any time in which the victim is age 15 or younger. So, it is possible that a 16 year-old male could be charged under the statute if he has consensual sex with his 15 year-old girlfriend. While such sexual act would clearly violate the statute, this is not the type of case that is usually brought by the prosecution.
Instead, prosecutors are typically much more concerned with cases involving the following:
- Cases in which a rape involving force or threat of violence. For instance, while the prosecution may not be interested in bringing a case against a 16 year-old male and his 15 year-old girlfriend, they would bring a case if the girl clearly did not consent, such as if she was raped at a party by someone whom she did not intend to have intercourse with. As noted above, by bringing a statutory rape / rape of a child charge, the prosecution does not have to prove there was no consent.
- Cases involving younger victims. The prosecution would also likely be interested in bringing a case against a 16 year-old male if his “girlfriend” was much younger (perhaps 12 or 13 years old).
- Cases involving a substantial age difference. Similarly, if the victim was 15 and the male was much older (maybe 19 or older), the prosecution might also be interested in bringing a rape charge, as there is the perception that an adult male may have undue influence over a younger female, even in the context of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
Key Elements of the Rape and Abuse of a Child Statute
In order for the jury to find a defendant guilty of rape or abuse of a child under 16, the Commonwealth must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- First Element: that the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse, either natural or unnatural, with the alleged victim;
- Second Element: that the alleged victim was a child under 16 years of age at the time of the alleged offense; and
- Third Element: that the sexual intercourse was unlawful.
For the first element, natural or unnatural sexual intercourse is defined as:
Natural intercourse is normal intercourse—that is, it consists of insertion of the penis into the female sex organ. Unnatural sexual intercourse includes oral and anal intercourse, including fellatio or cunnilingus, and other intrusions of a part of a person’s body or other object into the genital or anal opening of another’s body. Either natural or unnatural sexual intercourse is complete on penetration, no matter how slight, of a person’s genital or anal opening. In addition to the vagina, the female genital opening includes the anterior parts known as the vulva and labia. Penetration into the vagina itself is not required.
For the second element, all the prosecution needs to prove is that the alleged victim was under the age of 16 at the time the natural or unnatural sexual intercourse took place.
For the third element, the Commonwealth must prove that the sexual intercourse was unlawful. Unlawful sexual intercourse is intercourse outside of a marital relationship.
In order to convict a defendant, a jury needs to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the prosecution has proven all three of these elements.
Protect Your Rights and Get the Help You Need Now
If you have been charged with statutory rape or another felony, please call me for a free consultation, and to learn how I can help. It will be important for you to invoke your right to remain silent, and to let an experienced criminal defense attorney work vigorously on your behalf in protecting your rights and seeking to preserve your innocence.
I would invite you to call me at (978) 851-5145 or fill out the contact form below to schedule a meeting at your convenience.
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