Sexual assault or rape are very serious charges, and a conviction for sexual assault or rape in Massachusetts can have lifelong consequences. Sexual assault is a felony, and if convicted, a person will be labelled a felon which will remain on their permanent criminal record for life. In addition, being convicted of sexual assault will result in years of sex offender registration, a status that is easily searchable by almost anyone through a simple website search. If you or a loved one has been charged or accused of rape or sexual assault in the Boston area, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has successfully defended clients accused of sexual assault or other sex crimes.
Depending on the specifics of the alleged criminal act, a defendant can be charged with rape or sexual assault. If there is alleged force intercourse, then the crime can be charged as rape. If there is indecent assault that does not include allegations of intercourse, the crime can be charged as indecent assault.
Indecent assault involves the unwanted touching that includes touching of the breasts, genitals or buttocks. There are enhanced penalties where the indecent assault takes place against a child under the age of 14, against an elderly person, or against a person with an intellectual disability.
Rape is a crime of non-consensual sexual intercourse by force, threat or from the inability to consent. Force can come from actual physical force used against the victim, or by simply threatening violence, or even from the threat of retaliation against another person. Non-consensual can also include sexual intercourse on an unconscious or intoxicated person, or a mentally disabled victim. Again, there are enhanced penalties where the rape victim is a child.
Sexual Assault Allegations and Investigation
Sexual assault cases are often handled by Special Victims Units (SVU), which involve assistant district attorneys who specialize in sex crimes, victim witness advocates and state troopers who focus on rape and sexual assault cases.
Allegations of rape or sexual assault can be brought without any physical evidence, based only on the word of one person. Charges can even be brought based on the word of the alleged victim's parent or friend. Rape or sexual assault charges can also come days, weeks or even years after the alleged attack. Because of this, many people think it is difficult to defend themselves against charges of rape or sexual assault. However, as with any criminal charge, there are always defenses available to counter the prosecution's assertions that the defendant should be convicted.
Once an accused person becomes aware that the victim is claiming rape or sexual assault, in some cases the accused will attempt to contact the accuser, to clear up the situation or protest their innocence. However, the police can use this opportunity to use the accused's word against them in court. If you or a loved one become aware of rape assertions or a sexual assault investigation, you should contact a Boston area criminal defense lawyer to make sure your liberty, reputation and rights are protected.
Sexual Assault and Rape Criminal Penalties
The penalties for sex crimes including rape and sexual assault carry serious penalties, and can affect a person convicted of these crimes for the rest of their life. Penalties depend on a number of factors, including the defendant's criminal history, the age of the victim or victims, and whether the victim was injured in the course of the assault.
A rape conviction can result in a 20 year prison sentence. Sexual assault has a maximum penalty of 5 years, but if it is against a child under 14, the penalty is increased to 10 years. Aggravated rape, which involves serious bodily injury, or if it is committed during the commission of another felony, carries the maximum penalty of life in prison.
Massachusetts Sex Offender Registration
In some cases, even after any prison time has been served, an individual convicted of rape or sexual assault may be required to register as a sex offender. Annually and any time the individual moves, they will have to register their address and work address with the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB). Failing to register will incur additional penalties. For most sex offenses, registration is required for twenty (20) years after release. However, sexual assault or rape against a child carries lifetime mandatory registration.
Defenses to Sexual Assault or Rape
In some cases, sexual assault crimes can be difficult to prosecute because they often have little if any physical evidence that a crime has taken place. Sometimes charges come months or years after the alleged assault. Therefore, there are a number of legal defenses including consent or mistaken identity.
Attorneys with experience defending people accused of rape or sexual assault can do an in-depth investigation, review all available records, and even use private investigators to look into the background of the accused and their motivations for accusing someone of sexual assault.
At Dhar Law, LLP, our committed team of lawyers have years of experience defending clients charged with rape, sexual assault and other sex crimes. If you or a loved one become aware of an investigation involving charges of sexual assault or rape, or have been charged with a sex crime, you need the support of an experienced team of Boston criminal defense lawyers to make sure your rights are defended in court. Contact our offices today .