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Darien Rape Lawyer

Referred to as sexual assault under Connecticut law, rape is commonly considered one of the most serious crimes in the state and carries the potential for extremely severe penalties.  However, determining whether the crime has been committed, and what version of sexual assault is appropriate can be nuanced and complicated.  Having an experienced attorney who understands Connecticut rape law can mean the difference between years in jail, and potentially avoiding any criminal liability altogether.

Rape Charges Under Connecticut Law

The crime of “rape” is not explicitly named in the Connecticut General Statutes. Instead, sexual offenses that may be referred to as rape or statutory rape in other jurisdictions are defined in Connecticut as first-degree (C.G.S. §§ 53a-70a, 53a-70b, or 53a-70c), second-degree (C.G.S. § 53a-71), third-degree (C.G.S. §§ 53a-72a or 53a-72b), or fourth-degree sexual assault (C.G.S. § 53a-73a).  Each offense is a felony, except sexual assault in the fourth degree, which may be a misdemeanor.

What is the Most Serious Form of Sexual Assault in Connecticut?

The most serious rape crime in Connecticut is sexual assault in the first degree, which may involve:

  • Using force or the threat of force to compel another person to have sex
  • Having sex with a minor under the age of 13
  • Sexually assaulting someone with the assistance of two or more other people
  • Having sex with someone who is unable to consent due to mental incapacitation

First-degree sexual assault is a class A or B felony, depending on whether there are aggravating factors.  Aggravating factors include when the victim is under the age of 13, or when the victim is under 16 and a person threatens or uses force with or without a deadly weapon.

If convicted of class A first-degree sexual assault, a person will face a minimum of five years of prison and up to 25 years total.  If convicted of class B first-degree sexual assault a person will face a minimum of two years of prison and up to 20 years total.  Other aggravating factors may make the minimum jail time as high as 10 years.

What is Sexual Assault in the Second Degree Under CT Law?

Sexual assault in the second degree covers many situations that could be considered “statutory rape” in other jurisdictions.  The age of consent in Connecticut is 16 years old.  This means that having sex with anyone under 16 is second-degree sexual assault unless you are older than the victim by only three years or less.  So, while a person who is 18 years old may have consensual sex with someone who is 15-and-a-half years old, a person who is 19 would be guilty under Connecticut law for having sex with the same victim.

Other ways sexual assault in the second degree may be committed focuses on the mental status of the victim and the relationship between the parties.  Generally, a person cannot have sex with someone unable to legally give consent due to a mental defect or physical incapacitation.  In addition, having sex with someone under 18 when in a guardianship or other relationship where one has authority over the victim may constitute sexual assault in the second degree.  This includes a high school teacher and his student even if the student is older than 18 when the sex occurs.

Second-degree sexual assault is a class C felony, unless the victim is under sixteen years old, in which case it becomes a class B felony. The class C version is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Sexual Assault in the Third and Fourth Degrees

Sexual assault in the third degree and fourth degree generally concern circumstances where there is illicit sexual contact, but not sexual intercourse.

“Sexual contact” under Connecticut law happens when a person intentionally touches the intimate parts of another, or makes his own intimate parts come in contact with another person.  However, sexual contact is only illegal under Connecticut law if it is done for sexual gratification or to degrade the other person.  Incidental touching is not criminal.

Third-degree sexual assault occurs when the sexual contact is by force or the threat of force. Fourth-degree sexual assault usually involves sexual contact that is non-consensual.  “Consent” under Connecticut Law means actual permission to have sexual contact, and not merely acquiescence brought about by force, fear, or shock. To decide whether there is consent, Connecticut law considers if the words or conduct of the complainant under all the circumstances would justify a reasonable belief that she had consented to the sexual contact.  “Affirmative consent”, i.e., an affirmative expression by the complainant is not required, and consent may be implied by the circumstances, words, and conduct of the complainant.

Third-degree sexual assault is usually a class D felony, with possible punishments of up to five years in jail and a fine as high as $5,000.  Fourth-degree sexual assault is usually a class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine as high as $2,000.

Let a Darien Rape Attorney Help

When the stakes in your criminal case are as high as they might be following a rape allegation, it may be a good idea to secure seasoned legal representation from a knowledgeable Darien rape lawyer. An experienced defense attorney could benefit your case by assessing the circumstances and walking you through different legal strategies. Before heading to court, schedule a meeting with a skilled attorney to discuss your case.