Marital rape and Domestic violence crimes are still very real. If you believe you’ve been involved in marital rape or have been accused of such a deed, you should contact a sex crime lawyer in Los Angeles right away.
There are some people who still believe that sexual intercourse within marriage cannot be considered rape, but they are wrong.
The best way to know your rights and options, including keeping yourself and your family safe involve working with a professional. Since the idea of marital rape can be complicated, here is what you need to know to better understand marital rape and why it happens.
Marital Rape Defined
Rape, regardless of the nature of the relationship between parties, occurs when one person sexually forces themselves onto another person without consent.
Marital rape refers to rape between legal spouses. While it is more often experienced by women, it is not exclusively a female problem.
According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), approximately 14% of married women are raped by their husbands in the United States alone.
Marital rape is most often part of a widespread form of violence that takes place within an abusive marriage. In many cases, a sex crime lawyer is the one who uncovers that marital rape has or is occurring while working with the victim on a case dealing with widespread abuse.
Why is Marital Rape a Thing?
One of the most significant contributors to marital rape involves cultural norms, traditions, and religious interpretations. These push the idea that women should submit to their husbands, that wives owe their spouses sex.
Sex offender attorneys also find that some spouses like to feel the power that comes with forcing themselves on another. This could be part of the extensive practice of abuse.
A Historical View of Marital Rape
Non-consensual sexual intercourse between two people has always been illegal. The only exception was during the mid-1970s, where every state in the U.S. had an exemption that essentially allowed a husband to rape his wife without consequences.
There were numerous justifications for the exemptions that made spousal rape legal across America, such as:
- The British common law viewed marriage as a contract that gave husbands sexual consent from their wives at all times.
- The tradition viewed wives as a property of their husbands, which allowed them to do as they pleased.
- The interest of the public to keep marital relationships private, which meant neither the state nor the law should interfere.
In 1857, the Massachusetts courts first justified marital rape as the husband’s right to sexual intercourse. In fact, the courts also used the refusal of sex as reasonable grounds for divorce. This case set a precedent in every state, allowing for rape inside of the marriage.
By 1993, every U.S. state had added laws to the books against marital rape. That does not mean, however, that everyone is on the same page.
There were plenty of arguments for keeping some kind of exemptions to rape within marriage:
- That marital rape doesn’t happen enough to require removing the exception.
- That it’s too hard to prove the lack of consent within a marriage since sexual intercourse is part of the relationship.
- That other laws, like assault and battery, exist to protect abused spouses.
- That a spouse should be able to have sex without fearing prosecution.
- That removing the exemption could lead to false accusations during divorce proceedings.
The women’s movement in the 1970s helped push changes to the laws. The first state to remove the marital rape exception was Nebraska in 1976. It took 17 more years before every state revoked their exemptions.
The Obstacles Faced by A Victim and Their Sex Crime Lawyer
It may seem like modern-day rape laws are just and fair inside the bonds of marriage. While some states have revised their laws regarding rape, in such a way that there is no distinction between a rape inside or outside of marriage, other states have pushed back.
Some states require that reports of marital rape occur sooner than what is required for nonmarital rape victims. The statute of limitations for a “regular” rape might provide the victim years, while a report for marital rape must take place within a month.
In South Carolina, for example, the offense must be reported to law enforcement within 30 days of taking place.
On the other hand, your sex crimes lawyer in Los Angeles knows that California is progressive in this scenario, where victims typically have up to six years to bring a case against the perpetrator.
As many sex offender attorneys will tell you, prosecutors are often reluctant to pursue cases involving marital rape.
Because of the long-held belief that the marriage contract includes access to sex, jurors may also be slow to accept that rape happened within a marriage. Even DNA evidence can raise doubts since it may be hard to prove the sex wasn’t consensual.
Victims are often slow to come forward as well. There’s a great deal of social pressure that might keep an abused spouse quiet. Victims may feel shame or worry about the impact the case may have on their children.
When a state treats marital rape like any other kind of rape, the penalties are often the same. That could range anywhere from fines of up to $50,000 along with prison terms. Of course, the severity of the crime plays a significant role in punishment.
Some states, however, have different penalties for spousal rape. Virginia, for example, may waive fines and time in prison if the perpetrator successfully completes a court-approved counseling program.
There is Hope for Victims of Marital Rape
It may seem like a victim of marital rape is up against insurmountable odds. There is no question that the legal history of rape isn’t on the victim’s side, but times are changing.
That means courts are looking at marital rape in new ways and not always sticking to tradition when making decisions.
If you’ve been accused of marital rape, you don’t want to assume the case will go easy. If you’re a victim of marital rape, you can’t assume that you don’t have any recourse. In either situation, working with a sex crime attorney in Los Angeles is your best option to protect yourself.
Choose the Right Sex Crime Attorney
Marital rape is a serious offense. If you are suffering from this kind of domestic abuse, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Talk to our sex crime attorney right away.
Contact us at LibertyBell Law Group today.
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