A rape accusation is one of the most frightening cases that a person could face. While often, the government’s case is based only on the testimony of a complaining witness, a complaining witness’s testimony in a Virginia rape case can be very emotional and believable. If you face rape charges or any other sex crimes in Virginia, it is essential that you have an experienced attorney who will represent you fearlessly in court. At the Robinson Law Firm, our experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyers aggressively defend the rights of individuals charged with rape and other sex crimes. We understand what leads someone to exaggerate or make up charges and how to effectively point out their inconsistencies and mistruths.What Is Rape?
In Virginia, “rape” is defined very narrowly, but there are a number of other offenses that criminalize other acts. Rape is sexual intercourse that is against the victim’s will and is done with force, threat, intimidation, or with the victim’s physical helplessness. Va. Code Section 18.2-61. Sexual intercourse with a child under 13 is also rape, or what you may have heard of as “statutory rape.” Consensual sex with a minor between 13 and 16 is also a crime but is called “carnal knowledge” instead of rape and is a less serious class of crime. Va. Code Section 18.2-63.
If the complaining witness claims that she or he was assaulted some other way than by sexual intercourse, then the laws call it “sodomy” or “object sexual penetration.” Sodomy involves what is traditionally referred to as oral sex or anal sex and still requires that the complaining witness be forced, incapacitated, or under 13 years old. Va. Code Section 18.2-67.1. Object sexual penetration involves penetration with something other than a penis or a mouth, such as hands or toys, and also requires that the complaining witness be forced, incapacitated, or under 13 years old. Va. Code Section 18.2-67.2.What If It Wasn’t Rape, but the Witness Says I Touched Them Some Other Way?
There are two “catch-all” laws in Virginia for other types of sexual assault, called sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery. Sexual battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor and involves any unwanted touching of a person’s private parts, like genitals, breasts, or butt. Va. Code Section 18.2-67.4. There are certain things that can make it a more serious crime called aggravated sexual battery, such as the age of the complaining witness or whether it was done by force. Va Code Section 18.2-67.3.The Defense of Consent in Virginia Rape Cases
Consent is a common defense against rape and other sexual assaults. There are many reasons why a person may make a claim of sexual assault when you thought she or he had consented to it. Sometimes that person is consciously or unconsciously embarrassed by their own behavior or is being manipulated by another person. Sometimes that person may be motivated by money or favorable treatment by law enforcement. Sometimes the person may have been intoxicated and did not remember consenting to sex even though she did consent to it at the time.
If you had sex with a person that you believe agreed to have sex with you and are now facing rape or other sexual assault allegations, it is important that you are represented by an attorney who is familiar with the reasons why a person may make a false claim of sexual assault and how to defend you from such false claims.
DNA is much more fragile than many people realize, and it is not recovered in every sexual assault case because there isn’t enough of it or it has been wiped or washed away. If there is DNA involved in your case, then it is very important that you are represented by a Fairfax criminal defense attorney who does not merely take DNA analysis at face value. Not all DNA analysis is created equal, and it must be scrutinized carefully to be sure that it is reliable. Even if there is DNA evidence linking a person to a crime, there can be other, non-criminal explanations for that DNA evidence.
Unfortunately, a person can still be convicted even if there is no DNA or other forensic evidence. Often the only real evidence against a person is the complaining witness’s testimony. You should be represented by a skilled attorney who is able to cross-examine the complaining witness to break down her or his story in a way that persuades a judge or a jury that you are not guilty.
Why Do You Keep Saying “Complaining Witness” Instead of “Victim”?
If you’re charged with a criminal sexual assault, you are still innocent until proven guilty in court. In these cases, the main witness is often called the “victim,” but we believe that using this label admits that a crime has been committed before it has been proven in court. Instead, we call this person a complaining witness, which acknowledges that she or he claims that there has been some wrongdoing but does not admit that you were involved in it or that you did anything wrong. It is one small way that we continuously fight for persons who are accused of crimes.Contact an Experienced Virginia Sex Crimes Lawyer to Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you were recently arrested and charged with rape in Virginia, immediately reach out to Robinson Law, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation. The sooner we can get started working on your case, the better. Often, our sex crime defense lawyers can intervene early, pointing out problems in the prosecution’s case. This may lead to the government withdrawing your case. However, if the case does go to trial, you can rest assured that our aggressive litigators will be ready with a compelling defense. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call (703) 844-3746. You can also connect with us through our online form.