Pittsburgh Rape Lawyer | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

Call (412) 281-2146 today

When a one-time bad judgment call or miscommunication turns into a rape accusation, the consequences can be devastating. You will face bitter condemnation from your friends, coworkers, and neighbors, as well as the risk of many years in prison.

It is critical that you hire an experienced rape defense attorney as early in the process as possible to fight against these highly damaging claims. Call Worgul, Sarna, & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.

Table of Contents

Pennsylvania Rape Laws
What Prosecutors Must Prove
Penalties and Prison Time
Possible Defenses
Contact Us

Pennsylvania Rape Laws

In Pennsylvania, rape is a specific sex offense. It differs from sexual assault, indecent assault, and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Under Pennsylvania’s rape law, you can be charged with a first-degree felony if you engage in sexual intercourse with a victim:

  • By force.
  • By threat of force, which would prevent resistance by a reasonable person.
  • Who is unconscious, or when you know that the victim is unaware that sexual intercourse is occurring.
  • When you have substantially impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control their conduct by administering or employing, without the victim’s knowledge, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.
  • Who suffers from a mental disability, which renders the victim incapable of consent.

Consent in Pennsylvania Rape Cases

Many rape cases come down to a dispute between the parties involved about whether consent was given or not. You may have honestly believed the sex act was consensual. However, it is possible that someone will make accusations against you afterward and claim they did not consent. The alleged victim may have felt remorse over their participation, or they might feel angry or malicious. Although the rape charges may be disproved even before your case goes to trial, they can still be stressful and damaging.

What Prosecutors Must Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

If you are charged with rape, the prosecutor has to prove specific elements, which are defined in 18 Pa. Code §3121:

  • You performed sexual intercourse. Pennsylvania defines sexual intercourse as vaginal, oral or anal sex. Intercourse, of any type, is performed when there is any amount of penetration, however slight.
  • You used force, threats of force, incapacitating substances, or the victim was unconscious, unaware, or mentally disabled. Each of these denotes a lack of consent by the victim.

In general, the prosecutor must prove that you performed oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse on a victim who did not consent. When you reasonably believe that the other party consented to the sexual activity, you need to contact a rape lawyer right away.

Jail Time and Penalties for Rape in Pennsylvania

Rape is a felony of the first degree in Pennsylvania, and you can be sent to prison for up to 20 years. If you gave someone GHB or another date rape drug, you may face up to 10 additional years in prison.

If you allegedly raped a child under 13 years old, it is a felony of the first degree, and you can be punished with up to 40 years in prison. If the rape offense caused serious bodily injury to the child, then this is a first-degree felony for which you can be sentenced to life in prison.

Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registration

If you are convicted of rape in Pittsburgh, PA, or Allegheny County, you must also adhere to mandatory sex offender registration.

When the rape offense occurred after December 20, 2012, your registration is subject to a tiered system (Tier I, II, or III). Rape is a Tier III sexual offense, which is the most serious. You will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. You also have to appear at a local police station quarterly—four times per year. If the rape offense was committed before December 20, 2012, then you are classified as a Lifetime Registration. You must appear before the police annually—once per year.

If you fail to register after being released from prison, or you fail to appear when required, you can be charged with the additional crime of failure to register.

Additional Consequences of a Rape Conviction in PA

If you are convicted of rape, you will certainly face incarceration, fines, and sex offender registration. You also may be required to undergo mental health counseling and treatment. When you are released from prison, the situation will not be over. You will face the stigma and restrictions connected with sex offender registration, and many collateral consequences associated with a sex crime on your record.

As a sex offender, you may be subject to community notification. When you move to a new place, your neighbors may be told your name, address, and the sex offense you committed. They also will receive your picture.

Depending on the circumstances of your conviction, you may face living restrictions. For example, you may not be allowed to live with or near children, or to live near facilities where children congregate.

You may not be allowed to use the internet, or your internet could be restricted. For instance, you may be prohibited from using social media sites.

Also, you may have to adhere to no-contact orders. You may not be allowed to speak to or contact any of your victims or their families.

Other collateral consequences include having a hard time finding a job or getting into a school, training program, or apprenticeship. You may have a very hard time receiving an education or additional job training. Overall, it can be hard to find meaningful and well-paid work, which can make it difficult to support yourself.

To avoid these and other collateral consequences of a sex crime conviction, you need to call a rape attorney immediately after these allegations surface.

Potential Pittsburgh Rape Defenses

It is easy to become overwhelmed by rape charges in Pittsburgh. It can feel like the world is against you, but by working with an experienced rape lawyer, you can find the best way to defend yourself.

One possible defense is to try and prove the other party explicitly consented to the sexual activity, or you reasonably believed the other party consented. If your rape lawyer can prove it is likely that consent existed, you may not be convicted of the crime.

Another potential defense is that these are false allegations and that the sexual activity never took place. You and your rape lawyer may seek to prove that the accuser has an ulterior motive.

Additionally, it may be that the victim was raped, but you are not the perpetrator. There may have been a mistake of identity, and the prosecutor is pursuing the wrong person. In this case, your attorney will use every piece of evidence available to prove you were somewhere else at the time of the rape.

Contact a Pittsburgh Rape Lawyer If You Have Been Charged

If you have been charged with rape in Pennsylvania, your first step should be to immediately hire a rape defense attorney. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you. When you meet with your Pittsburgh criminal lawyer, give them as much information as you can about what happened. If the alleged victim’s accusations are the only evidence against you, your position is stronger than it would be if there were additional evidence. Your rape defense attorney will analyze their claims for contradictions or obvious falsehoods.

Questions? Contact Our Pittsburgh Rape Lawyers.

Your rights are at stake and you need the best defense to keep them. I will fight using the strongest defense available to get your Rape charge reduced or dismissed so you can move on with your life.

(412) 281-2146 or advice@pittsburghcriminalattorney.com