In Alabama, the crime of rape means that there has been some form of non-consensual sexual intercourse with a female. Rape may occur in several different ways; thus, the definition of what constitutes "rape" depends on the degree and type of rape charged.
Alabama recognizes two different levels; the most serious is the first degree.
There are three ways the crime of rape first degree can be committed.
Rape First Degree
Rape 1st° by "forcible compulsion."
This crime occurs when the rapist uses physical force (legally this is called "forcible compulsion" to overcome the earnest resistance of the victim or, the rapist made either a direct or implied threat putting the victim in fear of imminent death or serious physical injury to either themselves or another person.
Rape 1st° with the victim is "physically helpless or "mentally incapacitated."
Rape first degree also occurs when a man has sexual intercourse with a female who is incapable of consent because she is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated. A woman is physically helpless if she's either unconscious or, for any other reason, she's physically unable to communicate an unwillingness to act.
For example, if a woman drank too much and is unconscious, she would not be capable of consenting to sex; if a man had sex with her, it would be considered rape. Another example would be if a man had sex with a woman who is completely paralyzed and unable to communicate.
Rape First Degree where the victim is under 12 years of age
When a male who is 16 years old or older has sexual intercourse with a girl who is under the age of 12, this is a version of Rape, First.
Sentencing for Rape, First Degree
The maximum sentence for Rape First is life for 99 years in prison.
The minimum sentence usually is ten years in prison; unless the victim was a child under 12, where the minimum sentence is 20 years in prison.
If a firearm or other deadly weapon was used or an attempt was made to use such a weapon in committing the crime, the minimum sentence is 20 years in prison.
Rape, Second Degree
The next degree of rape under Alabama law is rape, second. There are two ways this crime occurs:
A male 16 or older has sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 16 but older than the age of 12.
The first is when a male aged 16 or older has sexual intercourse with a female who is under 16 but older than 12.
This law applies as long as the accused person is at least two years older than the person of the opposite sex. In other words, there is a "grace period" when there is less than two years between the parties. To put that in plain English, if a 16-year-old has sex with a 15-year-old that would not be rape under the statute. However, if a boy who was exactly 18 years old had sex with his girlfriend, he would be guilty of rape because there would be more than two years between them.
Under Alabama law, a child under the age of 16 is not capable of giving consent to sexual intercourse; many people refer to this as "statutory rape." There is no defense if the girl lies about being "of age," and there is no defense if the girl appears older than her age. This crime is a "strict liability" crime: if a male has sex with a female less than 16 and more than 12 and there are more than two years between them, it's rape, second degree.
Rape second degree where the female is "mentally defective."
Rape second degree also occurs when a male has sexual intercourse with a female who is incapable of giving consent because she is "mentally defective."
A female is "mentally defective" if she suffers from a mental disease or defect that renders her incapable of appraising the nature of her conduct.
Whether she is mentally defective is a question of fact; in a jury trial, the jury would decide if she suffered from a mental disease or defect to the degree where she would not be capable of consenting to have sex. If the trial were before a judge alone, the judge would decide the issue.
Punishment for Rape, second
Under most circumstances, punishment for this crime is from 2 to 20 years in prison. When a firearm or other deadly weapon is used (or was attempted to be used), the minimum sentence is ten years.
In addition to these consequences, a person convicted of any degree of rape is subject to Alabama's sex offender registration and notification laws. These laws require a person convicted of a sex crime be registered as a sex offender and, in most instances, that the public is to be notified.
If you or someone you care about is accused of rape in North Alabama, and you would like our help, feel free to call us