Traditionally, we think of rape in terms of consent: Did the victim say no, how was that communicated, did he or she have the ability or the capacity to understand what was happening, etc.
Our Birmingham rape defense attorneys know that the success or failure of a case often hinges on proving consent either existed or didn’t. Many times, the answer is murky.
Of course, as with anything, there are exceptions. Sometimes, there is technically consent, as we might commonly define it. And yet, it’s not enough to protect the accused from a conviction. In these cases, the defense team will need to take a different approach.
A prime example of this arose recently in Cullman County at, of all places, the county fair. A staffer at the carnival met a girl there. The two hit it off, exchanged phone numbers and set up a time to meet up after the fair had closed.
The two got together after closing time and reportedly engaged in a number of sexual acts.
This might have been no big issue – but for the fact that the girl was 15-years-old and the male carnival worker was 28.
Legally, the teen could not consent to sexual acts with an adult – even if she did technically consent.
The girl’s father called authorities after he discovered a text message his daughter received from the carnival worker, subsequent to their encounter. After questioning the girl about what happened, her parents decided to pursue criminal charges.
The worker has been charged with second-degree sodomy and second-degree rape.
Second-degree rape is charged anytime someone over the age of 16 engages in sexual intercourse with someone between the ages of 12 and 16, and the accused is at least two years older than the alleged victim. The penalty is between 2 and 20 years in prison, depending on one’s prior criminal record and the details of the case.
Sodomy in the second-degree is a similar charge, except that it involves “deviate” sexual intercourse. This too is a Class B felony, punishable by between 2 and 20 years in prison.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if we can prove the victim lied about his or her age. The adult will still be held responsible for engaging in a sexual act with a minor.
It’s important in these instances that the defendant refrain from saying anything to investigators until he or she has had the opportunity to consult with an experienced attorney. Many times, these cases rely heavily on “he-said-she-said,” and chances are, prosecutors will find a way to use your words against you.
The full scope of the defense approach in these instances is going to vary greatly, depending on the known facts of the case. There may be an opportunity to attack the credibility of the witness, whose statements may have been pressured, coerced or misled by authority figures.
In some instances, we may be able to show that your constitutional rights were violated during the course of the investigation, meaning key pieces of evidence should never see a courtroom.
These cases should never be taken lightly. Hiring an experienced legal team as soon as possible following your arrest (or even prior to your arrest, if you have an inkling that it’s pending) can help improve your chances of a more positive outcome.