The most serious sexual offence in English criminal law is rape. The offence is defined by section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

If you are accused of rape, the Prosecution must prove that you have:

  • Intentionally penetrated the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person with your penis,
  • The other person did not consent to this penetration, and
  • You did not have a reasonable belief that the other person was consenting

On the basis of this definition, only men can be accused of rape. There are related offences involving penetration, specifically sexual assault by penetration, which can be committed by anyone regardless of gender.

Often there is forensic evidence that confirms that sexual penetration has occurred, the key issue in an allegation of rape is whether the complainant consented to sexual intercourse occurring. This requires careful analysis of the incident, and potentially the scenario leading up to the alleged rape occurring, to find support for a defendant’s belief that the complainant consented.

Rape is an offence that is so serious, it can only be heard by the Crown Court. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment, and immediate prison sentences are inevitable for anyone convicted of the offence. As well as the immediate sentence, anyone convicted of rape would have to comply with the conditions of the Sex Offenders Register.

As rape allegations are so serious, and even being accused of the offence can cause a suspect great anxiety, it is important that you are represented by an experienced specialist solicitor, who knows the best way to prepare your defence. If you need more information about rape allegations, contact us and we can try to recommend a specialist criminal defence lawyer who can help you.

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