Few criminal charges cause the level of emotional distress and concern that arises from rape accusations. A rape conviction may not only gravely harm a person’s reputation and relationships but also result in a significant jail sentence and other penalties. Thus, it is vital for people charged with second-degree rape to consult an attorney to assess their options. The Charlotte and Concord rape defense lawyers at the Olsinski Law Firm are adept at defending against sex crime charges. If you are accused of rape, we can investigate your possible defenses and devise a plan that will help you fight to protect your interests.North Carolina’s Definition of Second-Degree Rape
Under North Carolina law, there are two circumstances that can lead to a second-degree rape conviction. First, a defendant may be found guilty of second-degree forcible rape for engaging in vaginal intercourse with another person with the use of force against the person’s will. A defendant may also be convicted of second-degree rape for participating in vaginal intercourse with a person who suffers from a mental disability, or with a person who is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, if the defendant knew or should have known about the person’s infirmities.
Additionally, the North Carolina legislature has provided definitions for what constitutes a mental or physical impairment for the purpose of prosecuting sex crimes. Specifically, a victim will be deemed physically helpless if he or she is unconscious or lacks the physical capacity to refuse to engage in vaginal intercourse or to express an unwillingness to participate in such an act. Similarly, a victim who is left significantly incapable of appreciating the nature of his or her behavior or rejecting the act of vaginal intercourse, due to a controlled substance given to him or her without consent or another act committed against the victim, may be deemed mentally incapacitated. Lastly, if a victim suffers from a mental disorder or intellectual disability that causes an incapacity to express a refusal to participate in vaginal intercourse, or to understand the nature of the act, the victim may be considered to have a mental disability.Penalties and Potential Defenses to a Second-Degree Rape Charge
In North Carolina, second-degree rape is a Class C felony, which means that it is punishable by 44 to 182 months in prison. Furthermore, people found guilty of second-degree rape may be required to register as sex offenders following their convictions and therefore may face additional restrictions.
While consent is a defense to many sex offenses, in second-degree rape cases, the prosecution will often argue that the victim lacked the capacity to knowingly submit to the alleged act, rendering the consent invalid. The prosecution bears the burden of proving that the victim could not consent to engage in vaginal intercourse, however, and if it cannot offer evidence sufficient to establish a lack of consent, the defendant should not be convicted. In other words, the prosecution must prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that no reasonable person who reviewed the facts of the case could come to a conclusion other than that the defendant is guilty. Conversely, criminal defendants do not have any burden and are not required to present evidence in their defense. In many cases, though, a defense attorney will offer evidence to refute the prosecution’s allegations.Discuss Your Charges With a Skillful Criminal Defense Lawyer in Concord or Charlotte
Rape charges can cause fear and confusion, but these charges may not necessarily result in a conviction. If you are charged with second-degree rape or any other sex crime, it is in your best interest to discuss the circumstances leading to your arrest with an attorney. The criminal defense attorneys at the Olsinski Law Firm are proficient at navigating the complexities of sex crime cases. We regularly represent people charged with rape in Charlotte and Concord and throughout Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties, including in Huntersville, Davidson, Matthews, Cornelius, Midland, Pineville, Mint Hill, Harrisburg, Kannapolis, and Mount Pleasant. You can reach us through our form online or at our office in Charlotte at 704-405-2580 or at our office in Concord at 704-918-4747 to set up a conference.