Content warning: discussion of sexual assault

Rape Laws and Penalties in New York

If you or a loved one is a survivor of rape, you may wonder how to move forward. New York rape laws can help you serve justice. Here’s everything you need to know about New York rape laws and penalties.

What is Rape?

Rape is non-consensual intercourse committed through physical force or other forms of duress. Statutory rape, while seemingly consensual, refers to a legal adult engaging in intercourse with a minor. Minors cannot legally consent to sex. Thus, regardless of the situation, sex with a minor is statutory rape.

What is Consent?

Consent refers to the unambiguous verbal and nonverbal agreement between parties to engage in sexual activity. If a party violates consent while engaging in intercourse, the non-consenting party experiences rape. Even though states have different ages of majority, no minor can give consent.

Related: New York Consent Laws: Updated 2022

The main components of consent include:

  • Given freely without pressure, threats, intoxication, or violence
  • Reversible at any time
  • Fully informed about the sexual acts involved
  • Given enthusiastically through verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Given during all instances of sexual activity

New York Rape Laws

New York law punishes three degrees of rape. New York Penal Code Section 130 defines “sexual intercourse” as any penetration.

Third-degree rape occurs when:

  • The victim is incapable of consent by a factor other than age
  • The victim is 17 years old, and the defendant is 21 or older
  • The victim does not consent to sexual intercourse for any other reason

Second-degree rape occurs when:

  • The victim is less than 15 years old, while the defendant is 18 or older
  • The victim is incapable of consent through mental disability or mental incapacitation

First-degree rape occurs when:

  • A person uses physical force, threats of personal injury, or kidnapping to compel the victim to engage in sexual intercourse
  • The victim is incapable of consent and physically helpless
  • The victim is less than 11 years old
  • The victim is less than 13 years old, while the defendant is 18 or older

Penalties for Rape in New York

New York Law punishes rape based on the case’s level of severity. After a prosecutor secures a conviction, the defendant faces penalties corresponding to the degree of rape.

Related: New York Implied Consent Law

Penalties for third-degree rape include:

  • Classification as a Class E felony
  • Up to four years in prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

Penalties for second-degree rape include:

  • Classification as a Class D felony
  • Between one and seven years in prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

Penalties for first-degree rape include:

  • Classification as a Class B felony
  • Between five and 25 years in prison
  • Up to $5,0000 in fines

State rape laws and penalties are constantly changing. Consult an experienced attorney to receive definitive answers to your questions.

FAQs About New York Rape Laws & Penalties

Is rape a misdemeanor or felony in New York?

Rape is a felony in New York. However, each case’s circumstances define the classification of the felony by levels of severity.

Who can face rape charges?

Anyone can face rape charges. Many people believe long-term partners and spouses cannot face rape charges. However, marital rape is a valid and prevalent form of sexual assault.

When should I report an instance of rape?

New York law recently extended the statute of limitations, or expiration date of a crime, for rape. While first-degree rape has no statute of limitations, third-degree rape expires in 10 years and second-degree in 20 years.

Make sure you feel ready before reporting an instance of rape. Your safety and comfort come first. Consult an experienced attorney to understand your options when you feel sufficiently prepared.

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