Asheville Rape Attorney

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Asheville Rape Lawyer

Facing criminal charges of any kind means that there is a risk of life-altering consequences. This is particularly true in cases in which a person is accused of rape. This type of crime carries with it severe stigmas that may have lasting impacts on one’s future, including obtaining employment, housing, or furthering education. Because of the horrific circumstances of the crime towards the victim, those who commit these acts should be held accountable. However, the circumstances and facts of each case are not always as clear as the charge suggests.

Understanding rape charges can help both the victim and the accused make sense of the situation and achieve the best possible outcome. If you are accused of rape, bringing an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to your team should be the first priority. This can ensure that you have the right protections in place for your case and receive a fair trial. Sex crimes are often surrounded by high emotions, but a conviction is not proven through emotion but through evidence.

What Is Defined as Rape?

Rape in North Carolina is a form of sexual assault or abuse. To be classified as rape, there must be nonconsensual sexual contact from one individual to another, and there must be forceful vaginal penetration. Unlike other states, North Carolina does not consider anal penetration rape but rather classifies it as a sexual offense. North Carolina’s rape statutes separate the offense into different categories. These include:

  • First-Degree Rape: To be characterized as a first-degree offense, the alleged offender must have engaged in vaginal intercourse with another person without their consent by force or against the will of that person. The victim reasonably believes they would be physically harmed by a deadly weapon. There is a serious physical injury to the victim. The offender commits the act with the help of one or more other individuals.
  • Second-Degree Rape: Like first-degree rape, this charge occurs when an individual forces vaginal penetration against the will of the victim, and this act is committed through force. This charge also applies if the victim has a mental disability, is mentally incapacitated, or is otherwise physically helpless. The offender reasonably knows one or more of these facts to be true and still commits the offense.
  • Statutory Rape: This charge occurs when a victim is under the age of 13 and a person or persons over the age of 18 forces vaginal intercourse with the child. Children under the age of 18 are not legally allowed to give consent, therefore there is no applicability of that defense in these situations. In addition to an adult, an individual who is more than four years older but less than six years older may not engage in vaginal intercourse with anyone under the age of 15. This is regardless of consent. Consent in this situation only applies if the individual is between 16 and 18 years old.

These charges are often accompanied by others for additional crimes that are committed during this act. For example, if you force your way into a home to commit the act, you may also be charged with breaking and entering. Sharing all the details of your case with your criminal defense attorney can help them understand the charges that you face.

How Is Rape Prosecuted?

In cases of rape, the burden of proof falls to the victim and the prosecution. There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed and that the defendant in question committed it. The rape charge can also be accompanied by various other charges, depending on the circumstances of the crime.

In addition to prosecution in a criminal court, victims are able to file civil claims against the perpetrator of the crime. In many cases, victims will not file a claim against the rape itself but against an intentional tort. This means they are seeking damages for an act that was intentionally committed with the purpose of causing harm. As examples, claims can be filed for reasons of assault and battery, intentionally inflicting emotional distress, and false imprisonment.

Both criminal charges and civil litigation seek to hold accountable a person who is responsible for the crime if one was indeed committed.

Penalties for Rape in North Carolina

All rape charges are considered felonies and therefore carry some of the highest penalties a person can face. Depending on the severity of the case’s circumstances, prior convictions, and the strength of the defense put forward, a person could face any of the following:

  • First-Degree Rape: This is a Class B1 felony and is punishable by prison sentences ranging from 12 years to life.
  • Second-Degree Rape: As a Class C felony, the prison term could potentially be 5½ to 15 years.
  • Statutory Rape: The circumstances of the case will determine if the charges are filed as a Class B1 or Class C felony with the appropriate prison terms for the charge.

In addition to the potential for lengthy prison terms, individuals convicted of rape also face a lifetime on the sex offender registry. This can have an enormous impact on an individual’s ability to gain employment, find housing, and seek higher education. It can even lead to travel restrictions.

Civil penalties can vary and are determined by the court. Awards may cover treatment for the effects of the crime, such as medical bills, therapy, emotional distress, and physical injuries.

Asheville, North Carolina Rape Attorney

If you are accused of rape, sexual abuse, or sexual assault, you should seek the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible. The process of litigating your case needs professional eyes and ears to help make sure your rights are not violated and that you are receiving a fair trial. An accusation alone does not mean you are guilty; it must be proven through proper evidence. At Doug Edwards Law, we know how much you have riding on the outcome of your case. From lengthy prison terms to lawsuits to life-altering registration as a sex offender, the consequences can be ruinous.

Contact our offices today and let our attorneys provide you with the legal defense that you deserve.

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