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The National Trial Lawyers
Greater Lowell Bar Association

Statutory Rape

A conviction for statutory rape, also known as rape and abuse of a child, often leads to a prison sentence. Anyone convicted of statutory rape will also be required to register as a sex offender.  In some cases, indefinite commitment to a treatment center will be the result of a conviction after trial.

Elements of Statutory Rape

In order to convict a defendant of statutory rape, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant had either natural or unnatural sexual intercourse with the alleged victim;
  2. The alleged victim was younger than 16 years old at the time of the alleged offense; and
  3. The defendant and the alleged victim were not married when the sex occurred.

Natural intercourse is the insertion of the penis into the female sex organ. Unnatural intercourse includes all other penetrative sexual conduct, such as anal sex, oral sex, and the insertion of any object into the anal or genital opening of someone else's body. The slightest amount of penetration is legally sufficient to establish natural or unnatural intercourse.

Common Defenses to Statutory Rape
  • As with any type of sex crime, the most common defense may be that the sexual contact never happened. The Commonwealth is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant and the alleged victim had natural or unnatural sex. This is often proven through the testimony of the alleged victim. In nearly every rape case, the alleged victim has some reason to fabricate the charges. In statutory rape cases, the disapproval of the alleged victim’s parents often impacts the story that is told by the alleged victim. If the alleged victim has received treatment for mental health issues, Attorney Spring will attempt to obtain the counseling records. Even in cases where there is physical evidence that appears to support the charges, Attorney Spring has hired a DNA expert and had him testify to an alternative explanation in front of the jury.
  • Statutory rape is a unique crime in that it is a strict liability offense. This means that consent is not a defense to statutory rape. A defendant’s good faith mistake regarding the alleged victim’s age is also not a defense to statutory rape. If the Commonwealth can prove that the defendant and the alleged victim had sex, how are those cases defended? The best defense may come long before the Commonwealth decides whether to charge the defendant with the crime. The assistant district attorney investigating the case will consider a variety of factors in determining whether to charge a defendant with statutory rape including the age of the alleged victim, the age of the defendant, whether the defendant and the alleged victim were in a romantic relationship, and the alleged victim’s parents’ feelings about the case. You need an attorney who has experience in negotiating with prosecutors regarding whether an indictment will be sought. Attorney Spring is in a position to aggressively advocate on your behalf.

Given the serious consequences that result from a statutory rape conviction, it is essential that you have an attorney who is experienced in trying these types of cases. Attorney Spring has a track record of successfully defending individuals charged with sex crimes.

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