There is no worse crime to be accused of than a sex crime. Not only are the consequences and punishments severe if you are convicted, but those accused of sex crimes will carry a “negative stigma” for the rest of their lives that can affect their career, housing, education, and social lives. If you have been accused of rape in Georgia, you owe it to yourself to understand the charges and get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
What is considered rape in Georgia?
Rape is defined, under Georgia law, as a man having “carnal knowledge” of “a female forcibly and against her will.” In this instance, carnal knowledge is very specifically defined as “penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ. ”
The age of consent in Georgia
The age of consent in Georgia to engage in sex is 16. Even if the person gave consent, if he or she is younger than the age of 16, you could be charged with statutory rape. Those younger than 16 are not believed capable of giving consent to sexual activity, so their stated consent is not legally valid.
What is the penalty for statutory rape in Georgia?
Statutory rape in Georgia is a felony and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if the defendant is over the age of 21. Georgia also requires those convicted of statutory rape to register as a sex offender.
In Georgia, there is an exemption for consensual sex between a victim who is 14 or 15 years old and someone who is 18 or younger, known as the “Romeo and Juliet” exemption. While the act is still illegal, it is considered a misdemeanor offense and carries a penalty of as much as 12 months jail time and a fine of $1,000.
Consequences of a rape conviction
If you are found guilty:
- You might be required to register as a sex offender.
- You might not be able to live in certain areas.
- You might face difficulty in finding a job, and
- You might not be able to enroll in college.
Is there any defense against a rape charge?
When someone is accused of rape, there are defenses available such as:
- To prove voluntary consent. Proving consent is challenging and often results in “he-said-she-said” sorts of testimony. A defense lawyer may rely on witness testimony, texts, emails, and more to show that there was a relationship or that consent was implied.
- To show the lack of credibility of the prosecution’s evidence or witnesses. This might be accomplished by:
- Proving that the accuser’s claim is false due to embarrassment, shame, revenge, contempt, financial incentive, or some other motivation.
- Proving that the statute of limitations for the charge has expired.
- Providing those specific elements of the crime did not occur.
- No physical evidence supports the charge.
- Witness testimony is unreliable or contradictory to their previous statements.
An experienced defense attorney can provide the services necessary to protect a defendant’s legal rights. You should consult with a Georgia criminal defense attorney that has the expertise and knowledge to provide a strong defense.