Ohio Rape Law
Other Practice Areas
This page is designed to help you better understand the basics of rape (including the difference between rape and sexual battery), the specific elements of rape in the state of Ohio, what the penalties are for an individual who may be found guilty of rape (including all of the variants), and how an attorney can help a victim of rape or an individual who has been accused of rape.
As you will see the penalties for an individual found guilty of rape can be detrimental. Rape, although it is a taboo subject, is a serious matter that can have lasting consequences on an individual’s reputation and life if they are not careful. A person should always be aware of the situation they are involved in and whether or not they should be doing what they are doing.
Note: Just as with any other legal situation, if a person finds themselves a victim of rape or accused of rape, they should not hesitate to contact an attorney. It is a smart tactical move and can prevent a person from incriminating themselves or possibly getting themselves into even more trouble. This page details the specifics regarding rape law in the state of Ohio, and can vary from state-to-state.
What is Rape?
In the state of Ohio, sexual assault typically can fall into one of two categories: (1) rape; or (2) sexual battery. Unless the individual reading this information is nuanced in the Ohio Revised Code or is familiar with criminal law, it is natural to wonder what the difference between these two categories is.
Rape is covered in § 2907.02 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC).
Merriam-Webster defines rape as “unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent.”
Sexual Battery is covered in § 2907.03 of the Ohio Revised Code. A more comprehensive understanding of the technical differences between rape and sexual battery can be found in Subsection (A) and Subsection (B) of § 2907.03. By default, sexual battery is a third degree felony.
What are the Elements of Rape?
Rape is defined and covered under Subsection (A) of § 2907.02 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Subsection (A) defines rape as the following:
(1) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another who is not the spouse of the offender or who is the spouse of the offender but is living separate and apart from the offender, when any of the following applies:
(a) For the purpose of preventing resistance, the offender substantially impairs the other person’s judgment or control by administering any drug, intoxicant, or controlled substance to the other person surreptitiously or by force, threat of force, or deception.
(b) The other person is less than thirteen years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of the other person.
(c) The other person’s ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition or because of advanced age, and the offender knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the other person’s ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition or because of advanced age.
(2) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another when the offender purposely compels the other person to submit by force or threat of force.”
Breaking It Down: A person is typically guilty of rape when they engage in sexual conduct with another person (who is not the offender’s husband/wife or separated husband/wife): (1) through impairment by the use of drugs, alcohol, or a controlled substance; (2) if the other person is under the age of 13 [regardless of the fact the violator knew or did not know the person’s age]; (3) through impairment due to a mental or physical condition; and (4) through the use of force or threat of force.
What, If Anything, Does the Victim Have To Show?
This question is most accurately addressed under Subsection (C) of § 2907.02:
”(C) A victim need not prove physical resistance to the offender in prosecutions under this section.”
Breaking It Down: Simply put, a victim who has alleged that they have been raped does not have to show that they physically resisted their attacker in order to prove that they were in fact raped.
What Can Be Used As Evidence and What Cannot Be Used?
This question is most accurately addressed under Subsections (D)-(G) of § 2907.02.
Subsection (D) states:
“(D) Evidence of specific instances of the victim’s sexual activity, opinion evidence of the victim’s sexual activity, and reputation evidence of the victim’s sexual activity shall not be admitted under this section unless it involves evidence of the origin of semen, pregnancy, or disease, or the victim’s past sexual activity with the offender, and only to the extent that the court finds that the evidence is material to a fact at issue in the case and that its inflammatory or prejudicial nature does not outweigh its probative value.
Evidence of specific instances of the defendant’s sexual activity, opinion evidence of the defendant’s sexual activity, and reputation evidence of the defendant’s sexual activity shall not be admitted under this section unless it involves evidence of the origin of semen, pregnancy, or disease, the defendant’s past sexual activity with the victim, or is admissible against the defendant under section 2945.59 of the Revised Code, and only to the extent that the court finds that the evidence is material to a fact at issue in the case and that its inflammatory or prejudicial nature does not outweigh its probative value.”
Breaking It Down: Neither the victim nor the accused may introduce opinion or reputation evidence of the other’s sexual activity unless it is to show the origin of disease, pregnancy, semen, or a past sexual relationship between the victim or the defendant. The one exception to this is covered in § 2945.59 of the ORC which deals with the defendant’s motive. Similarly, the evidence must relate to a material fact of the case and must be more probative than it is prejudicial.
Subsection (E) states:
“(E) Prior to taking testimony or receiving evidence of any sexual activity of the victim or the defendant in a proceeding under this section, the court shall resolve the admissibility of the proposed evidence in a hearing in chambers, which shall be held at or before preliminary hearing and not less than three days before trial, or for good cause shown during the trial.”
Breaking It Down: This subsection specifically relates to Subsection (D). For evidence related to any sexual activity of the defendant or the victim, a preliminary hearing for this evidence shall be conducted by the court at least 3 days before the trial begins, or if good cause is shown, during trial.
Subsection (F) states:
“(F) Upon approval by the court, the victim may be represented by counsel in any hearing in chambers or other proceeding to resolve the admissibility of evidence. If the victim is indigent or otherwise is unable to obtain the services of counsel, the court, upon request, may appoint counsel to represent the victim without cost to the victim.”
Breaking It Down: The court can allow the victim to be represented by counsel in all matters regarding the admissibility of evidence. If the victim is unable to obtain counsel, the court can appoint the victim counsel upon request.
Subsection (G) states:
“(G) It is not a defense to a charge under division (A)(2) of this section that the offender and the victim were married or were cohabiting at the time of the commission of the offense.”
Breaking It Down: Claiming that the defendant and the victim were married or living together at the time the rape was committed is an invalid defense in the state of Ohio.
What are the Penalties for Rape?
Even the most basic form of rape is still a very serious offense, and all forms of rape are determined by the state of Ohio to be a first degree felony. In the state of Ohio, the consequences for a first degree felony by default is 3-10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $20,000. Because rape is a sexually motivated crime, it carries with it another penalty. Any individual found guilty of rape will most likely be placed on the sexual offender registry.
The penalties for rape are covered under Subsection (B) of § 2907.02 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Breaking It Down: Subsection (B) sets out various penalties depending on the specific details of a given case. Most are variants on the penalty given above. However, it is worth noting that an adult who rapes a child under the age of thirteen can receive a jail sentence of up to life in prison.
Note: For a verbatim understanding and reading of the penalties for rape, see § 2907.02(B) of the ORC.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
As the Victim:
Rape is a very serious allegation and can carry with it a lot of heavy consequences for any individual found guilty. It is important to be aware of what constitutes rape. Accusing an individual of rape is not something that should be taken lightly. However, if you or someone you know is a victim of rape or believes they were a victim of rape, the first thing that should be done is to contact the police and contact an attorney. As a victim of rape, your attorney can work closely with the appropriate authorities to ensure that your case is accurately handled and that your best interests are represented in all matters regarding your case.
As the Accused:
Besides being a very serious allegation, rape is also a very serious crime. As noted in the penalties section, an individual found guilty of rape will not only receive jail time and a possible fine, but their reputation and future is also jeopardized when they are required to place their name permanently on the sex offender registry. Just because an individual is accused of rape, does not mean that that individual is guilty. If an individual finds themselves accused of rape, before speaking with the police, the first thing that individual should do is contact that attorney or some form of legal representation. By doing this, despite what others may believe or want you to believe, this is not an admission of guilt, this is a smart legal tactic a person should utilize to protect themselves from possible incrimination; especially if that individual is innocent of the crime or charges they are being accused of. An attorney will work to make sure that you are treated properly throughout the investigation and/or trial. More importantly, an attorney will review every important detail related to the case of an individual accused of rape to make sure that they are not being wrongly accused or wrongly charged.
Note: Regardless of which end you are on in a legal situation involving an allegation of rape, it is always a good idea to contact some form of legal representation to make sure that your best interests are looked after throughout the entirety of the investigation and/or trial.