Rape of a Child

Allegations of rape charges involving children often have negative consequences without any arrest having been made. Yet, these are serious crimes with potentially devastating consequences if a conviction occurs.

Sexual abuse occurs when a sexual act occurs between a child and an adult or a significantly older child. Rape or sexual assault, an incredibly invasive and terrible form of sexual abuse, occurs when children are forced or coerced into having sex without their express consent, regardless of the perpetrator’s age.

Sexual abuse includes a wide range of physical, sexual behaviors, from passive inappropriate touching or fondling to forced sexual intercourse. Sexual abuse can also occur without any physical contact, such as when children are forced to watch pornography or observe the sexual activity of others. Forcing children to participate in the production of pornography is another form of sexual exploitation. Often, older youth or adults may force younger kids to participate in these acts by threatening them or people they care about.

The significance of a rape charge involving children is grave. Criminal defense attorneys understand how the costs and possible convictions can ruin lives quickly and forever. Having to register as a sex offender alters the life of the registered individual in many ways, and the related consequences are negative with severe impacts that can cause years of problems and complications.

A rape charge may allege the use of force, the alleged victim’s inability to consent due to a physical or mental condition, or the defendant’s abuse of a position of authority or power over the alleged victim. However, the crime of “rape of a child” is defined solely by the alleged victim’s age. Below a certain age, the law presumes that a person cannot consent to sexual activity.

In any rape prosecution, the State must first prove that the defendant and the alleged victim had sexual intercourse, which has its usual meaning and includes any penetration of a person’s intimate areas. The State must also prove the lack of consent of the alleged victim and other circumstances of the crime. For example, suppose the lack of support is based on a physical or mental condition that renders the alleged victim legally incapable of giving consent. In that case, the defendant may offer evidence of a reasonable belief that the alleged victim was not so impaired at the time of the offense.

Sexually abused or sexually assaulted youth are often emotionally damaged or even traumatized by their victimization. Both short- and long-term effects can result from such abuse, including intense shame, low self-esteem, grief, anger, depression, anxiety, and difficulty forming new loving and sexually healthy relationships. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that all sexually abused or victimized children have the opportunity to meet with an expert counselor who can help them learn to cope, stay safe, and put their victimization in a perspective that allows them to move forward healthily. While not perfect, professional help can go a long way toward limiting the effects of this harm.

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