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Rape Definition According To The Courts

rape definition

Any form of sexual assault can be an extremely traumatic and a highly sensitive experience. In these delicate situations, it is important to understand the definition of rape. The way that California courts dictate the definition of rape will influence your approach to finding justice in a legal environment.

Rape Definition In California Court

California State laws currently include offenses of rape under the broader category of “sexual assault” and not a separate offence on its own. There is no longer a unique legal definition for rape. Also included in this category are other offenses such as groping and other unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault, under law, refers to the act of rape, groping or any unwanted touching of a sexual nature. To prove a rape offense, a prosecutor needs to prove that sexual assault occurred via elements stated by law.

The state of California describes the following scenarios of sexual intercourse as an example of rape:

  • Physical force, intimidation, duress, or threats were used
  • The victim reacted in fear of immediate bodily injury (or injury to another person)
  • The victim was incapable of giving consent due to delayed development, physical disability or intoxication
  • The victim was asleep, unconscious or unawares of the act of sexual intercourse occurring
  • Induced sexual intercourse happened via fraudulent representation

What Are The Different Types Of Rape

The violent crime of forcing sexual acts onto a person can manifest in different ways. Technically defined as forced penetration, whether anal, vaginal or oral, the different forms of rape are defined by who is committing the act and the specific actions involved.

  • Diminished Capacity

    This form of rape refers to forced sexual penetration of a victim who is unable to consent to the act. This can be due to physical reasons, limited intellectual capacity, and intoxication.

  • Age-Related Rape

    Age-related rape, otherwise known as statutory rape, is specified in both federal and state law. Sexual actions with a person under the minimum age, typically 12 years old, is illegal.

  • Incest

    Incest is a form of rape which includes a familial relationship between the parties involved in the sex act. These can include parents and children, uncles and nieces/nephews, aunts and nieces/nephews. In California, incest includes any relations by lineal consanguinity, or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece. It also includes half-siblings.

  • Partner/Spousal/Marital Rape

    As the name suggests, this form of rape involves a person’s partner, or previous partner. It can occur via battering rape where physical and sexual violence is involved, force-only whereby the imposition of power and control is involved, or obsessive sadistic rape which involves torture and perverse sexual acts.

  • Acquaintance Rape

    Majority of the instances of rape occurs between two people who know each other. This is the case of acquaintance rape, also known as ‘date rape’. The lines can often be blurred in this instance due to the social relationship, but without consent the act is considered rape.

Although rape can occur in different forms, the effects of all experiences are traumatic and can leave one feeling overwhelmed, ashamed, alone and abused. Understanding your situation in a legal manner is one way to handle it within the law. With an expert sexual abuse lawyer with knowledge and experiences in these types of cases, you can be best informed about the wrongful act, the possibilities of justice, and how best to move forward in a legal environment.


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