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Second Degree Rape

In Alabama, the crime of Rape in the Second  Degree can occur in two different ways.

The first way is if a male 16 or older has sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 16 but older than the age of 12. This is typically what people refer to as "statutory rape."

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, who is aged 15 years and 364 days, he would be guilty of rape in the second degree because there would be more than two years between them.

Under Alabama law, a child under the age of 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse. It is not a defense in Alabama, even if the girl lies about being "of age," It is also no defense if a girl appears older than her age. This is a "strict liability crime," which means that the only issue is whether or not the parties had sex and the ages of the parties. Simply put, 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.

This does not mean the case is hopeless, and a lawyer can do several things to have either the charges dismissed or minimize potential consequences. 

The other way that rape second occurs is if a person has sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally defective.

A person is "mentally defective" if they suffer from a mental disease or defect that renders them incapable of appraising the nature of their conduct.

Whether someone is mentally defective is a question of fact; in a jury trial, the jury would decide if the person suffered from a mental disease or defect to the degree where they 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 in the Second Degree

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.

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