Forcible Rape and Sexual Assault in North Carolina

Forcible Rape and Sexual Assaultrape in north carolina

This blog focuses on forcible sex offenses involving penetration of adult victims. This type of sex offense is broken up into two categories – forcible rape in North Carolina and forcible sexual offense in North Carolina. These sex offenses are governed by the North Carolina General Statutes.

Forcible Rape in North Carolina

Forcible rape in North Carolina is governed by NC involves vaginal intercourse (penetration by a penis) only and is broken up into two degrees. Note that this offense will only be charged with a male/female defendant/victim or female/male defendant/victim. A male cannot rape another male and a female cannot rape another female.

First-Degree Forcible Rape

First-degree forcible rape is a Class B1 felony in North Carolina. This occurs when a person engages in forced vaginal intercourse (vaginal penetration by penis) with another person against her will and does any of the following:

  1. Employs or displays a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article which the other person reasonably believes to be a dangerous or deadly weapon
  2. Inflicts serious personal injury upon the victim or another person
  3. The person commits the offense aided and abetted by one or more other persons

Second-Degree Forcible Rape

Second-degree forcible rape is a Class C felony in North Carolina. This occurs when a person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person:

  1. By force and against the will of the other person; or
  2. Who is mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless; and
    1.   The person performing the act knows or should reasonably know the other person is mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless

Forcible Sexual Offense in North Carolina

Forcible sexual offense in North Carolina is distinguishable from rape in that it involves a sexual act other than vaginal intercourse. For purposes of this offense, sexual acts include the following: cunnilingus, analingus, fellatio, anal intercourse; insertion of any object into another’s genitals or anal opening. Just like forcible rape, forcible sexual offense is broken up into two degrees.

First-Degree Forcible Sexual Offense

First-degree forcible sexual offense is a Class B1 felony in North Carolina. This is penalized the same as first-degree forcible rape, which is also a Class B1 felony. First-degree forcible sexual offense occurs when a person engages in a forced sexual act with another person against his or her will and does any of the following:

  1. Employs or displays a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article which the other person reasonably believes to be a dangerous or deadly weapon
  2. Inflicts serious personal injury upon the victim or another person
  3. The person commits the offense aided and abetted by one or more other persons

Second-Degree Forcible Sexual Offense

Second-degree forcible sexual offense is a Class C felony in North Carolina. This is penalized the same as second-degree forcible rape, which is also a Class C felony. Second-degree forcible sexual offense occurs when a person engages in a sex act with another person:

  1. By force and against the will of the other person; or
  2. Who is mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless; and
    1. The person performing the act knows or should reasonably know the other person is mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless

Now that we have broken down this category of sex crime in North Carolina, let’s explore some common issues surrounding these crimes.

What is force?

Proof of actual force (such as a beating or restraint) is not required. Constructive force by threat, fear, or duress, is sufficient.

Lack of consent

Evidence of physical resistance is not necessary to prove lack of consent. A hot button issue right now that has been litigated is the issue of withdrawn consent. North Carolina law has been clear that if penetration occurs with the victim’s consent, no rape has occurred, even if the victim later withdraws consent during the same act of intercourse. Whether this law will clearly change is yet to be known. High courts in NC have had this question come up recently.

Serious personal injury

May be proved by showing mental injury or bodily injury, a combination of both, or death. This is a question of fact for a jury to decide.

Deadly weapon

This is satisfied if the weapon reasonably appeared to the victim to be dangerous or deadly even if it in fact was not (example: toy gun).

Spousal defense

Although this used to be a common defense to rape, it is no longer a valid defense in North Carolina. A person may be prosecuted for rape or sexual offense against his or her spouse.

Parental rights when a child is conceived of rape

If a person is convicted of first-or-second-degree forcible rape and a child is conceived of that rape, the person convicted will have no custodial or inheritance rights with regard to the child conceived of the rape.

If you have been charged with forced rape or forced sexual offense in North Carolina, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options.