A Case of Spousal Rape

Jan 02

Spousal rape or marital rape is any form of unwanted or non-consensual sexual intercourse or penetration forced by an individual upon his/her spouse or ex-spouse (penetration, which is completed through the use of force, threat of force or if the spouse lacks the ability to refuse, may be vaginal, anal, or oral). Spousal rape cases involve individuals who are legally married to each other, are cohabiting with one another, divorced or separated. Regardless of the type of relationship, spousal rape, which is a serious and current form of violence against women, is a serious crime

Until 1979, Americans held the belief that no man could ever be held guilty of raping his wife. This belief is rooted on the English common law, a source of various traditional laws in the U.S., which says that once a woman enters into marital union, it will imply a permanent consent that could never be retracted.

A spousal rape conviction after 1979, however, totally changed America’s view regarding rape being committed against a spouse. The conviction was based on a case wherein a wife accused her husband of invasion and sexual abuse while they were in the middle of a divorce. The importance of this conviction rested on the fact that the merits of the decision was not exclusively confined in case, but rather served as a precedence to so many other spousal rape cases and convictions from the 1980s to the 1990s. Due to these early convictions, state criminal codes’ definition of rape today no longer excludes spouses as victims. Besides this, refusing intimate time with one’s husband is also no longer a valid ground for divorce and spousal rape is now declared illegal in every state in the U.S.

Married individuals, who engage in unlawful sexual penetration, can be charged with spousal rape because it is alleged that the defendant was armed with a weapon, caused serious bodily harm, or the couple had been separated and at least one partner has filed for either divorce or separate maintenance. A charge of spousal rape can be elevated to aggravated sexual assault if the defendant was particularly vile, cruel, or otherwise inhumane.

Spousal rape is usually prosecuted as a Class C felony, while aggravated spousal rape is considered a Class B felony. Most states penalize marital rape with fines that can cost up to more than $50,000 and a prison term that can last for several years, or for life, without parole.

According to the law firm Horst Law, simply being accused of a crime can change a person’s life. The penalties of a conviction can haunt him/her for years even after he/she has served his/her sentence and may affect what kinds of jobs he/she will be able to obtain and even where he/she will be allowed to live. However, it’s important to remember that an accusation is just that: an accusation. A person charged still has a real chance to defend his/her rights and protect his/her future from the challenges that would come with a conviction, such as jail time, fines, or having to register as a sex offender.

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