If you have found this page, you or someone you love is in a lot of trouble and needs help. Being accused of rape is one of the most serious, devastating things that can happen to a person. So how do you defend yourself from rape charges? Well, the best way is to immediately hire an experienced criminal defense firm like Patituce & Associates, LLC.
Many people who would otherwise be found not guilty get themselves in trouble by trying to fix the problem themselves. If you are convicted of raping an individual over the age of 13, you are going to prison for 3 to 11 years—and if you are convicted of raping someone younger, you face life in prison. On top of this, a rape conviction means that you register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
It is vital that you hire someone who has a team of individuals from investigators to attorneys who have specific experience defending sex crime cases. Contact our Cleveland rape lawyers at 440-471-7784!
Act Quickly If You Have Been Accused of Rape in Ohio
Often, people hesitate to hire a lawyer before talking to the police because we are taught from a young age that we need to respect the police and that the police are just here to help us. This could not be further from the truth. You should absolutely hire a lawyer to defend you before talking to the police about a rape allegation.
It is even more important that you do so if you are innocent. Some people ask “But I did nothing wrong! I have nothing to worry about.” These are often the same people who end up being convicted because during their interrogation they “shifted in their seat” in a way that police felt was incriminating or the police twisted their story in order to make guilt appear.
It is extremely important to your freedom that you not speak to the police about any allegations of rape until after you have hired competent, experienced, counsel. You need to act quickly to protect yourself. If the police have contacted you and wish you to give a statement, or even come in to speak, you should first contact a Cleveland rape lawyer to explain your rights to you.
Be polite when speaking to the police, but understand they are not there to help you—they are there to conduct a criminal investigation. If it is in your best legal interests to speak, your criminal defense attorney should advise you of that.
Can You Use Consent as a Defense to a Rape Charge?
Consent is one of the most common, and powerful, defenses to an allegation of rape. As former prosecutors that handled many rape cases, we can tell you that in “he said, she said” cases, the defense of consent was the hardest to fight. In many cases where rape has been alleged, there are no witnesses, no serious injuries (such as black eyes, scrapes, cuts), and there is heavy alcohol consumption.
With lowered inhibitions, some alleged victims are often regretful of their decisions the next day and may claim to have been raped, when in truth they were not. In other situations, false allegations of rape may arise in situations involving infidelity.
Can You Use Past False Rape Claims as a Defense or Evidence?
Being accused of rape is horrible for many reasons—in large part because of the stigma it carries. Being falsely accused by someone who has a history of making false claims is even worse. We are often asked by our clients if you can use past false rape claims as a defense. The answer is absolutely and an experienced Cleveland rape defense attorney would absolutely use false claims as a defense strategy.
There are statutory and rule requirements needed to introduce the evidence, but if properly handled, collected, and used, it can be used to completely discredit the witness before the jury. Very few people will forgive someone who would lie about such a serious charge.
If I’m Convicted of Rape, Will I Be a Registered Sex Offender?
Yes, in Ohio if you are convicted of any form of rape, you will be required to register as a sex offender. More specifically, you will be required to register as a sex offender every 90 days for the rest of your life in any county where you work, live, or go to school.
It is important that if you are being accused of rape that you immediately hire counsel that can actively and aggressively defend you. On certain rape charges, the penalty is life in prison, so registering as a sex offender can be the least of your worries. Other times, though you do need to and rightfully should worry about the lifetime registration requirement that goes along with these types of cases.
Penalties for Rape (O.R.C. 2907.02) in Ohio
If you have been charged with rape, you need to speak with a Cleveland rape lawyer to discuss the exact penalties you face on a rape conviction. Marriages have ended, jobs have been lost, and children have been taken away merely on the accusation of rape. The penalties, however, can be even more severe.
As an example, rape is a felony of the first degree and can be punished with 3 to 10 years in prison. On top of this, if you are convicted of rape, you will be labeled as a Tier 3 Sex Offender after you leave prison. This means that you will have to register for the rest of your life, publicly, every 90 days.
Penalties for rape are also enhanced based on the age of the victim—to the point where a rape conviction can carry the mandatory penalty of life in prison. In other words, if the purported victim is a minor, a conviction can mean life.
Penalty for Rape If You Are a Juvenile Defendant
Often, we take emotional and difficult phone calls from parents seeking representation to defend their child who has been charged with rape. As former prosecutors, we know how difficult these cases can be. Almost always, one of the first questions the parent has for us is whether or not the penalty for rape is different for their child, a juvenile, than it is for an adult. The answer is yes but the truth is that it depends.
The juvenile court system is different from the adult system and, technically, a conviction in juvenile court means the longest you can spend in prison, as a juvenile, is until your 21st birthday. That aside, the state of Ohio, especially in Cuyahoga County, often attempts to have juveniles ages 16 and older transferred to the adult division of Common Pleas to be tried as an adult.
If a juvenile, 16 and over, is tried as an adult, they face the possibility of life in prison with parole if convicted of O.R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b). However, this sentence may be reduced to 3 to 11 years if certain criteria are met. It is important while keeping the penalties in mind to focus on fighting the charges. Many of these cases can be handled successfully if handled in the right way.
Sexual battery or sexual assault (O.R.C. 2907.03), is a serious charge that covers a wide range of potential behaviors. In general, the statute penalizes sexual conduct where coercion, fraud, or an inability to consent are present.
Some coercive situations are obvious, but it also includes sexual contact with a person who cannot consent because of intoxication, or where the defendant is a teacher at a school and the victim is a student.
Individuals who are confined in hospitals or prisons are also protected by the statute, as those who have supervisory or disciplinary authority over them can be prosecuted based on the theory that an inmate cannot freely consent.
A conviction for sexual battery and sexual assault has steep penalties. As a base charge, sexual battery is a third-degree felony, with a prison sentence of nine months to five years available to the judge. If the victim was under the age of 13, you could face a definite sentence of at least two years in prison and as long as eight years.
Gross Sexual Imposition Charges (O.R.C. 2907.05)
Gross sexual imposition is charged by prosecutors when they believe they can prove that you forced a person into sexual contact against their will.
This can be achieved through:
- Force or the threat of force
- Drugging the victim or taking advantage of a drugged condition
- When the victim is under the age of 13 and could not legally consent
- When mental or physical condition, or advanced age, impair the victim’s ability to give consent
As a first offender, a conviction is a third-degree misdemeanor, carrying a sentence of up to 60 days. If you have previous convictions for sex crimes, you’ll be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for gross sexual imposition will carry a six-month maximum sentence.
In gross sexual imposition cases where the victim is under 13 years of age, the crime is a third-degree felony carrying a possible 5-year prison sentence.
What If I’m a “John Doe” Suspect in a Cold Case Rape Indictment?
In Ohio, there has been a recent push to review old rape cases, often called “cold cases.”
Old DNA evidence is being submitted to the state lab, which is turning out results in high volume. If the lab makes a match, the prosecution is filing charges. However, in situations where there is no match, the prosecution is seeking indictments against “John Doe” for rape, in an attempt to preserve their ability to seek a conviction despite the passing of the statute of limitations.
So, what if you think you are a “John Doe”? This is a hotly contested development in some courts. It is imperative that you seek aggressive counsel to mount all possible defenses for sex crime charges on your behalf. Defenses may include challenges on constitutional grounds, as well as challenges as to the DNA evidence or other evidence the prosecution intends to use, which may not be stale.
What Happens at My First Court Date on a Rape Charge?
Your first court date, or appearance, is called your arraignment. In other courts, they also have a preliminary hearing, which is similar. At your arraignment, you are going to enter a plea of not guilty. This plea protects you from any possible punishment and sets your case down the track of being fought.
Also, at your first court date, the court will address one of the more important aspects of your case: the setting of a bond. A bond is used to make sure that you will appear and, at the same time, makes sure that the public will be protected. While you are presumed to be innocent, the prosecution always wants to make sure that the public is safe.
Can We Appeal the Verdict in a Rape Case?
You have 30 days from the date of sentencing to appeal the trial court’s rape conviction to the Court of Appeals. An attorney will file a Notice of Appeal in the trial court, along with all the necessary motions and forms. They will then request a copy of the transcripts of the proceeding. A brief will be prepared, arguing the trial court’s errors.
Once the brief is filed, the state of Ohio will have an opportunity to respond to the brief. Once the briefs are submitted to the Court of Appeals, a date will be scheduled for oral arguments. The attorney will have the opportunity to make arguments to the panel of judges.
Later, the judges will issue a ruling. The court can either affirm the trial court’s decision or remand the case back to the trial court and the initial rape conviction.
Call an Experienced and Trusted Cleveland Rape Lawyer Today!
Over the years, we have been called on to file appeals on rape convictions after the initial conviction and where we were not the firm that originally represented them. In other words, we’re very good at what we do.
Our team at Patituce & Associates has over 70 years of legal experience. We do not believe you should have to pay just to tell us about your case. Your initial consultation with us is free and confidential.
Whether you speak to us by phone, or in person at our Cleveland office, make sure you tell us the complete story of what happened so that we can defend you properly. After the initial consultation, if we agree to take the case, we will immediately begin defending you by obtaining the evidence and examining it.
Call our Cleveland rape lawyers at 440-471-7784 to set up a free consultation.