You may be surprised to find that, until 1975, every state had a “marital exemption” that allowed a husband to rape his wife without fear of legal consequences – this may come as a surprise, seeing as today we have many laws in place that makes any form of rape totally illegal. In 1979, a bartender in Massachusetts drunkenly burst into the home he used to share with his estranged wife and raped her. This was believed to be the first-ever American conviction for spousal rape when he was tried in court, because before then there were no laws stopping a man from doing just that if the crime involved her husband. In 1991, it was cited that approximately 15% of married women would experience marital rape, and the crime still happens to this day even though not all women will report it.
In 1993, progress was finally made as all 50 states and D.C. enacted laws against marital rape. There is only one marital exemption still existing today, which is for statutory rape. This type of rape occurs when an adult has sex with a minor. An example is if a 17-year-old girl decides that she is going to have sex with her 25-year-old boyfriend; in this case, the boyfriend could be charged with rape since the 17-year-old is not legally permitted to give consent. However, if the couple lived in a state with a marital exemption for this crime, then the boyfriend would not receive charges for having consensual sex.
Understanding Various Laws and Non-Consent
The laws will differ from state to state. For instance, in South Carolina, spousal rape proceedings cannot continue until the spouse’s conduct is reported to law enforcement; however, one must do so within thirty days of the event for it to count. In Virginia, marital counseling will ensue if marital rape has happened. One must also consider the fact that proving rape by a spouse can be a difficult and sometimes daunting task. It may be quite difficult to prove that the victim did not give consent. It may take something as severe as marital discord or separation evidence to show that the sex was not consensual in the event of a marriage.
Laws Specific to California
When punishing rape, the penalties are very similar to general rape without marriage. If you commit this crime, you should expect to receive imprisonment for a term of three, six, or eight years. The court may also impose a fine of up to $70 to be paid to the victim or $1,000 to a battered women’s shelter. The defendant may also receive probation, in which they will regularly meet with a probation officer and fulfill other terms and conditions, such as maintaining employment or attending counseling for the crime at hand.
If you are facing charges for marital rape, you are risking harsh fines and long prison time. This is why it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. You may be able to get a lighter sentence like a reduction in penalties. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today for more information on what you can do.