If you are arrested for a sex crime in Savannah, Georgia, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer, like the attorneys of Phillips Carson Phillips. When you have been accused of a serious crime such as rape, you will need good legal advice in your hour of need. If convicted, the penalties can be severe. In this blog, learn more about rape charges in Savannah, penalties if convicted, potential defenses, and the need for a strong criminal defense lawyer.
What is Rape?
In Georgia, rape is, by law, a man having carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. It is narrowly defined as penetration of the vagina by the penis. Generally, sexual offenses outside of this definition are charged as sexual battery or aggravated sodomy in the state of Georgia.
By law, rape can occur within a marriage. You cannot use marriage to the other person as a defense against a rape charge.
Rape Penalties in Georgia
In Georgia, the penalties for a rape conviction are steep and could include:
- The death penalty
- Life in prison without parole
- 25-year prison minimum and lifetime probation
In Georgia, any person that has sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16 can be charged with statutory rape. Since individuals under the age of 16 cannot legally consent, this is a type of rape. In this instance, the sexual encounter does not need to be forcible.
Statutory Rape Penalties
The penalties for statutory rape vary depending on your age. If you’re under 21 years old, you could face one to 20 years in prison. If you’re over 21 years old, you could get 10 to 20 years in prison. Statutory rape carries a felony charge.
Romeo and Juliet Laws
There are some exceptions to statutory rape laws for defendants that are no more than four years older than the victim if she is 14 to 16 years old. In this case, you would face misdemeanor charges.
Mandatory Sex Offender Registration
If convicted of rape, you must register as a sex offender in Georgia for the rest of your life. For statutory rape convictions, those over 21 years old must also register.
Possible Defenses to a Rape Charge in Georgia
There are several possible defenses to a rape charge in Georgia. The effectiveness of each strategy will depend on the nature of what happened.
Adults are allowed to engage in consensual relationships. By giving consent, there isn’t a crime. If the victim consented to sexual intercourse, then they cannot accuse the defendant of rape because of this consent.
Failure to Withdraw Consent
Did the alleged victim indicate that they did not want to engage in sexual conduct? Did they say or do something that made it clear they no longer wanted sexual contact or intercourse to occur? If the accused individual continued, this may be a defense that they did not say anything to withdraw their consent. You may not have known that they changed their mind.
The man must have the ability to penetrate for rape to occur. If he does not, this may be a defense. If you have a documented history of erectile dysfunction, then it is possible to use this as a defense that you could not have engaged in the alleged behavior.
Lack of Evidence
The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that there is no other explanation for what happened than what is being claimed. In order to do this, they use physical evidence and testimony from witnesses who might have been present at the time of an incident.
If the alleged victim did not get DNA evidence or a medical exam after the incident, proving that it was the defendant may be difficult.
Prior Consensual Sexual Relationship
If you have an existing consensual sexual relationship, this could be used to build a defense. It could show that there was an existing relationship there. However, the burden is on you to prove you had a history of consent with the alleged victim. While this might not be enough to stop the charges, it could help to limit the penalties.
Contact a Savannah Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Given the seriousness of a rape charge, you will want and need an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Phillips Carson Phillips is a trusted and experienced Savannah criminal defense attorney that is available to help. They know the law and the court system and can defend you at this difficult time. Contact us to schedule a consultation by calling (912) 232-0081 or using our online contact form.