Protecting Your Rights and Reputation

Rape and Other Sexual Offenses in Georgia

rape charges

Rape and other forms of sexual offenses can be some of the most serious charges in Georgia. If you are facing rape charges, or if someone has accused you of sexual assault, you need to know the state laws and what potential penalties you might face. Georgia has no criminal offense known as sexual assault, but the state has various sexual offenses addressing sexual assault conduct.

Sexual Offense Laws in Georgia

There are a number of Georgia sex crimes. What sexual charges you face will depend on factors such as the gender of both you and your alleged victim, your ages, and what body parts were involved in the alleged sex act.

Rape Charges

With news reports of people being charged with rape and walking away with little to no jail time, you may wonder, “Is rape a felony?” In Georgia it is. Under Georgia law, rape is defined as a man having “carnal knowledge” of “a female forcibly and against her will.” The term “carnal knowledge” is very specific. It means the “penetration of the female sex organ (vagina) by the male sex organ (penis).” In other words, only non-consensual penile-vaginal intercourse counts as rape in Georgia.

Additionally, forcible rape is also defined as a male having carnal knowledge of a female less than 10 years old.

(Aggravated) Sodomy & (Aggravated) Sexual Battery

By definition, Georgia’s offense of rape does not apply to a female offender nor to a male offender/male victim offense. Instead, Georgia has other sexual offense crimes that apply to that conduct. Aggravated Sodomy is defined as an act of sodomy--a sexual act involving the sexual organ of one person and the mouth or anus or another person (for example, anal sex or oral sex)--committed by force and against the will of the victim. Also, Aggravated Sodomy exists if the offender commits an act of sodomy against a person less than 10 years old. The felony offense of sodomy alone does not apply to non-commercial, consensual conduct committed between adults.

The offense of Aggravated Sexual Battery is defined as the intentional penetration of the sexual organ or anus of another person with a foreign object without the consent of that person. An example of a foreign object is a finger; a penis is not considered a foreign object for purposes of this offense.

The offense of Sexual Battery is defined as intentionally making physical contact with the intimate parts of another person without the consent of that person. “Intimate parts” includes the genitals, buttocks, inner thighs, and breasts of a female. Sexual battery is a misdemeanor offense if committed against a person who is at least 16 years old. However, a second offense against a person who is at least 16 years old will be a felony offense. Additionally, the offense of Sexual Battery is a felony offense if committed against a person under 16 years old.

Georgia Statutory Rape

Children cannot give legal consent to sex. Anyone who engages in sexual intercourse with someone younger than 16 can potentially face statutory rape charges, even if the child agrees to the behavior. If a girl is less than 10 years old, the man who had sex with her can be charged with forcible rape (see above). This offense does not apply, however, if the two persons involved are married.

Georgia Statutory Rape laws depend on the age of the offender and the victim. If the offender is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than 4 years older than a victim who is at least 14 years old, then the offense of Statutory Rape is a misdemeanor. If the offender is between 18 years of age (but more than 4 years older than the victim) and 20 years of age, the offense is still a felony, but it has a lower sentence. When an adult aged 21 or over commits Statutory Rape with a person under 16 years of age, then full Statutory Rape penalties apply. Unlike the general Rape charge discussed above, both men and women can be charged with and convicted of Statutory Rape.

What is the Sentence for Rape or Sexual Battery?

The penalties for sexual offenses, including Sexual Battery, Rape, and Statutory Rape, depend on the degree of the offense and, in the case of Statutory Rape, the age difference between the parties. In addition to the prison and financial consequences of Georgia sex crimes, most sexual offenses require mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Charge

Penalty

Sex Offender Registration

Rape

Life in prison with no parole; Life in prison; A prison term of no less than 25 years and no more than life in prison followed by lifetime probation

Yes, for life

Sodomy (felony)

1-20 years in prison and lifetime probation

Yes

Aggravated Sexual Battery

Life in prison; A prison term of no less than 25 years and no more than life in prison followed by lifetime probation

Yes, for life

Sexual Battery (misdemeanor)

First offense against victim 16 years of age or older (misdemeanor): Up to 12 months in jail and up to $5,000 fine

Second offense against victim 16 years of age or older (felony): 1-5 years in prison

Any offense against a person under 16 years of age (felony): 1-5 years in prison

(First offense) No

(Repeat offense) Yes

Yes

Statutory Rape (felony)

Offender at least 18 years old and more than 4 years older than the victim but no more than 20 years old: 1-20 years in prison

Offender age 21 or over: 10-20 years in prison

Yes

Yes

Romeo & Juliet Statutory Rape (misdemeanor) “Romeo & Juliet”

Offender 18 years old or younger and no more than 4 years older than a victim who is at least 14 years old: Up to 12 months in jail, probation, fines, community service, “stay away” order

No

How to Defend Against Sexual Assault Charges

As serious as Georgia sexual offense charges are, it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you are charged (or if you know that you are being investigated) to begin building your defense. The defenses available to you will depend on the specific facts in your case. However, some common defense options include:

Consent

Many, but not all, criminal sexual offenses involve force or lack of consent. With regard to consent, if the victim agreed to the sexual encounter (unless they were under 16 years of age) and never withdrew consent, then you cannot be convicted of a sexual offense that requires “lack of consent.” Consent can be hard to prove, since often there are only two people in the room at the time of the sexual offense. If a victim has a history of past legal and consensual sex with an offender, then sometimes that evidence can be used to show that the encounter in question was not rape or sexual assault. But, in some cases, rape shield laws, intended to protect victims of sexual crimes, will keep this testimony or evidence from being admitted at trial.

Also, if a person is temporarily unable to give consent due to intoxication or sleep, for example, a consent defense may not apply. This defense is often not a clear-cut issue and will depend on the facts presented at trial. It will be up to the jury to determine whether the alleged victim’s condition left them unable to give consent.

Mistaken Identity and a Lack of DNA Evidence

If you did not have a relationship with the victim, you may be charged by mistake. The victim may not have known their attacker. You may be charged based only on your physical description or proximity at the time of the event. If the victim sought medical attention right away but the hospital was unable to produce DNA evidence of penetration, you may be able to argue that it wasn’t you who performed the act.

Medical Impotency

If you are medically incapable of having intercourse, you may be able to use your condition in defense of rape or sodomy charges. However, any penetration however slight is enough to defeat this defense, so it doesn’t often apply.

Marital Statutory Rape Exemption

Rape can occur between any man and any woman, including spouses. The fact that a man was married to the woman he forced intercourse on is not a defense, though the prosecutor may have a harder time proving the intercourse was non-consensual. However, marriage is a defense to statutory rape charges. If the adult was married to the child at the time the sex occurred, then he or she cannot be convicted of statutory rape charges.

Get Help with Rape and Sexual Battery Charges

Rape and sexual battery charges often come down to the testimony of the alleged victims and the accused defendant. In these “he said / she said” kinds of cases, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to develop strong defenses to these very serious criminal charges.

At the McCoy Law Firm, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have handled many cases of rape and sexual battery -- both as defense attorneys, and as former prosecutors. We know what defenses will work, and how to protect you from serious consequences and sex offender registration requirements. If you have been charged with a sex crime, please contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia so we can begin working on your case right away.

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