Under Alabama law there are at four ways a person can commit the crime of rape without realizing they have committed the crime.
- Statutory Rape
- Physically Helpless Rape
- Rape where the victim is “mentally defective”
- “Aid and Abet” Rape
The most common example is “statutory rape”.
People below a certain age cannot give consent to sexual activity under the law.
In other words if an 18-year-old boy has sex with a 15-year-old girl he is guilty of rape. It makes no difference whether or not she wanted to have sex with him.
Even if the 15-year-old girl is the spitting image of Kim Kardashian, uses a fake ID to get into a bar and claims she's 21, if the 18-year-old has sex with her, its rape. Even if she lies to him, says she's 21, shows him a fake ID that says she's 21, he's guilty of rape.
This is true even if he had no intent to commit a crime-and even if he was trying to avoid committing one.
Under Alabama law a person who is 16 years old or older cannot have sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is more than two years younger than they are without it being a crime.
Statutory rape in Alabama is a “strict liability” offense. This means person's motive and intent are irrelevant and provide no defense under the law. The only issue is if the person violated the law.
Our 18-year-old would be a rapist without knowing he had committed a crime.
Another type of rape under Alabama law is where the victim is physically helpless.
Physically helpless rape means the victim is “unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate an unwillingness to act”.
Here's a real life situation from one of my cases: A guy and a girl are at a party drinking. Neither is sober. They have sex.
The girl claims she was raped. She says, due to her degree of intoxication, she was “physically helpless”.
My client did not believe he had committed a crime. In his view this woman was capable of consent and not physically helpless. He didn't believe he had committed a crime.
We argued what occurred was regret on her part – not rape. Eventually his charges were dismissed. But my client spent over a year in jail before this happened.
A woman can sometimes be so intoxicated as to have been “physically helpless” and she can be unable to consent to sex. But at what point a person who is intoxicated ecomes “physically helpless” can be difficult to determine. When does being drunk equal being in a drunken or equal being “physically helpless”?
It's not always easy to tell.
Of course there are cases where there's no doubt. I had a case where my client took advantage of women in a hospital who were under anesthetized. Clearly his victims were physically helpless. Not surprisingly he pled guilty.
Rape can occur when the victim is “mentally defective”. This law is designed to protect “mentally defective” people from being taken advantage of.
The specific definition of “mentally defective” means the person's suffers from a mental disease or defect that renders them “incapable of appraising the nature of their conduct.”
Of course we can't see into people's heads. Not all mental defects are clearly or immediately apparent. A person accused of rape may not have been aware the victim was suffering from a mental defect.
The decision as to whether or not someone is mentally defective is typically made by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
While we make jokes about “dumb blondes” at what point is someone to know, legally, if the “dumb blonde” is a person who is (or is not) capable of consent?
Is it possible that a person could be charged with rape under circumstances where they were not aware that someone was “mentally defective”?
The accused may not know that the woman he has sex with was more than just a “dumb blonde”- she was “mentally defective”.
A person can be convicted of rape without ever having had sex with the victim.
This is because, under Alabama law one person can be held accountable for the behavior of another if they “aided or abetted” the other person.
In other words if two people decide to commit a crime, each person is liable for everything that flows from the original criminal plan. By “everything”, the law means not only things that were originally planned but also things that may not have been planned.
So, for example, two men decide to burglarize a house. One says he's only willing to wait in the car and be the getaway driver. The other man breaks in the house and rapes a woman. The getaway driver is also guilty of rape. This is so even though the driver had no idea a woman was going to be in the house and no idea his companion was going to rape her.
Under Alabama law, if you agree to participate with another in a crime, you are responsible for the other person's actions as well as yours.
While the driver may claim he never raped anyone, under Alabama law he would be guilty.
The lesson is that the web of the law sometimes catches those who don't even suspect they have committed a crime.
Huntsville Sex Crime and Rape Defense Attorneys
Rape accusations and charges can have detrimental consequences. It is imperative to have skilled, experienced defense counsel on your side. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Segal & Segal, LLC are former prosecutors and experienced criminal defense attorneys. They use their extensive experience in criminal defense and sex crimes to provide a strong defense on your behalf. Contact them today at 256-533-4529 for a confidential attorney assessment of your case.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Segal & Segal, LLC proudly represent individuals throughout the Huntsville area, including Madison County, Morgan County, Marshall County, Limestone County and Jackson County, as well as the cities of Decatur, Madison, Meridianville, Moores Mill, Hazel Green, New Hope and surrounding communities.
 It is a common technique among investigators, when they believe a statutory rape to have occurred, to accuse a young man of forcible rape. Oftentimes the man will say something along the lines of “well, we had sex but I never forced her to do anything.” Of course this answer is an admission to rape.