Spousal Rape Charges Between Jurisdictions

Spousal Rape Charges Between Jurisdictions

In the past, there were very few laws regarding the sexual rights of partners in a marriage, beyond common law justifications for what is now known as spousal rape. The concept of implied consent and conjugal rights that protected sexually aggressive spouses from charges of domestic sexual assault or rape simply does not exist anymore in the United States, making this a serious and highly-punishable offense in most jurisdictions. As a result, several states have established their own laws regarding this offense and how it may be punished.

For most states spousal rape is treated no differently from what is occasionally known as rape of an other, meaning rape as if the victim and offender were not married. In these jurisdictions, the standard punishments are available for sex offenders of this kind, generally resulting in a significant jail sentence and felony-grade offense on the offender’s criminal record. If force is involved, this may increase sentencing accordingly.

In other states, there are separate grounds and charges for spousal rape, which may allow those charged with rape to exercise some semblance of the old implied consent defenses so long as force was not used. In these states, marriage confers a certain protection for spouses who did not force their spouse into sexual activity, but may not have otherwise had the proper grounds for consent.

Some states include a stipulation that this kind of rape may not occur unless a divorce proceeding was put in motion or both spouses had separate living conditions. In some ways, this upholds the majority of implied consent common law statutes, but may not necessarily offer lighter treatment if an offense is prosecuted.

If you are interested in learning more about the rights of abused spouses in married couples from a civil damage standpoint, contact a family law attorney.