Navigating the Indiana Rape Statute

June 02, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Navigating the Indiana Rape Statute

As with all states, Indiana takes the crime of rape and other sex crimes very seriously. When you face a charge of rape in Indiana, you face life-altering consequences if convicted. If you are accused of rape or another sex crime, contact an Indiana rape defense lawyer who can help you understand how the Indiana rape statute applies to your case and work with you to strategize the most effective defense possible.

It is important to understand what conduct is considered rape in Indiana and the sentences each charge carries. Once you understand the laws and penalties, it’s time to think about defending the charge, and this is done best with an experienced Indiana rape defense lawyer.

Understanding the Indiana Rape Statute and Penalties

When you are accused of a crime or think you may be in the future, it is important to have a basic understanding of the laws governing the potential crime. This is especially important with regard to sex offenses. Under Indiana Code § 35-42-4-1, the Indiana rape statute, conduct amounts to rape when a person knowingly or intentionally has sex with someone or makes another person engage in other sexual conduct when:

  • The other person is compelled by force or the threat of imminent force is involved
  • The other person is unaware the sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct is happening
  • The other person is mentally disabled or deficient and cannot give consent

Rape in Indiana is a Level 3 felony that can carry a sentence of three and 16 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000. However, the offense is aggravated rape, a Level 1 felony, if:

  • Deadly force or the threat of deadly force is used
  • The crime is committed while carrying a deadly weapon
  • The event results in serious bodily injury to a person other than the defendant
  • Drugs are used without the other person’s consent to facilitate the offense

The penalty associated with a Level 1 felony in Indiana is between 20 and 40 years in jail and a fine of as much as $10,000. With such serious penalties, a rape allegation or charge requires an experienced Indiana rape defense lawyer to help protect your rights and freedom.

The Difference between Rape and Statutory Rape

To understand the charges and penalties for rape in Indiana, it helps to know the difference between rape and statutory rape. Statutory rape differs from rape in that it involves someone incapable of giving consent. The person may be deemed incapable because he or she is below the age of consent or lacks the mental capacity to consent. As such, even if a 15-year-old willingly participated in sexual acts, the consent is deemed invalid, and the partner may be charged with statutory rape.

In sum, statutory rape is different from rape because the element of consent is not an issue. However, consent can be the main focus of a rape case, requiring the court or jury to determine whether the defendant forced the person to have sex against their wishes. Whether you face a statutory rape or rape charge, you should contact an experienced Indiana rape defense lawyer to help you establish a strong defense strategy.

Defending a Charge under the Indiana Rape Statute

Generally, a rape trial will center around whether there was awareness and consent to the sexual contact. If you are charged with rape under the Indiana rape statute or face accusations of another sex crime, it is very overwhelming and can make it difficult to think clearly. Not only does this significantly impact your reputation, but conviction results in serious consequences. As such, it is wise to hire an experienced criminal lawyer to help prepare the best defense possible.

When the evidence shows that sexual contact occurred, the prosecution must also prove the contact was nonconsensual (except in the case of statutory rape). A defense to this allegation might be to show you had consent for the sexual contact. However, this can come down to “he said, she said,” leaving your fate in the hands of a court or jury who must decide which testimony to believe. When the prosecution claims the other person was unaware of the sexual contact, you may want to offer evidence to show that the complainant was aware and gave consent, but that can also devolve into a contest of whom to believe.

The Indiana Rape Shield Statute

In years past, defense attorneys would use the complainant’s sexual history as proof of consent. The Indiana rape shield statute, Indiana Code § 35-37-4-4, limits the admissibility of such evidence. The following are not allowed to be used against the complainant in rape cases:

  • Past sexual conduct
  • Opinion evidence of the victim’s past sexual conduct
  • Reputation evidence of the victim’s past sexual conduct

The defense may not point out specific incidents of sexual conduct of the accuser or have other people give their opinion on or detail the other person’s reputation for sexual conduct. However, the person’s sexual history can be used as evidence:

  • Showing the person’s past sexual conduct with the defendant
  • Showing a person other than the defendant committed the crime
  • Showing that a pregnancy was not caused by the defendant

The best way to fight a charge of rape in Indiana is with an experienced defense attorney’s help. Don’t trust your future in your own hands when an Indiana rape defense lawyer gives you the best chance of resuming your normal life.

Other Sex Crimes and the Indiana Rape Statute

In addition to statutory rape and rape, Indiana law specifically defines some several other sex offenses, including sexual battery and sex crimes involving minors. While they do not necessarily rise to the same level of severity as rape, the consequences can still be dire if you are convicted.

Sexual Battery in Indiana

Sexual battery is a lower-level felony than the offense defined in the Indiana rape statute. Specifically, sexual battery is a Level 6 felony if there is evidence to show that the offender intended to pursue the sexual arousal or satisfaction of either party and the offender:

  • Touched another person when the person was compelled to submit to the touching by force or threat of imminent force or is so mentally disabled or deficient that he or she could not consent to the touching
  • Touched another person’s genitals, pubic area, butt, or female breast when the person was unaware of being touched

However, the offenses above turn into a Level 4 felony if:

  • The offense was committed by using or threatening deadly force
  • The offense was committed while possessing a deadly weapon
  • The other person was given a drug without their knowledge

A Level 6 felony in Indiana carries a penalty upon conviction of between six months and two and a half years in prison, along with a fine of up to $10,000. If you are convicted of a Level 4 felony, you face two to 12 years of imprisonment, with a fine of no more than $10,000. These are serious penalties, but an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney can help you fight for a lower sentence.

Crimes Involving Minors

There are many crimes defined under Indiana law that involve any sexual conduct with minors. These crimes include:

  • Molestation of a child
  • Exploitation of a child
  • Performing sex acts while a minor is present
  • Solicitation of a child
  • Seduction of a child
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor

Whether you are charged with rape, sexual battery, or any other sex crime, you should contact an experienced attorney. An Indiana rape defense lawyer can best advise you of your legal options and the best way to defend your case when you are charged with any sex crime in Indiana.

The Indiana Rape Statute Requires Sex Offender Registration

The penalties for conviction the Indiana rape statute are not limited to jail time and fine. Those convicted of rape in Indiana must also be included in the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry for a minimum of ten years after their release. However, many convicted of rape must stay on the sex registry for life.

Registered sex offenders have less right to privacy. After a conviction, your personal information and photograph must be provided to the police. Additionally, the police or other law enforcement have the right to search your computers at any time.

In addition, persons on the Indiana sex offender list must meet certain physical distance requirements. They are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school or within one mile of the other person that was the subject of the defendant’s sex offense conviction. If the rape or crime involved a child, the defendant also may not reside within 1,000 feet of school property, a program center, or a public park.

These requirement of registry as a sex offender and related restrictions can have serious impacts to access to housing and employment opportunities, hindering an offender’s ability to move on with life and pursue fulfillment.

Statute of Limitations for Rape in Indiana

The statute of limitations refers the how long the prosecutor has after the alleged criminal conduct to file a charge against an alleged offender under the Indiana rape statute. While this would seem straightforward for a charge like rape, some specific circumstances can affect how the length of the statute of limitations period.

Those charged with a Level 3 felony can be charged with a crime between five and ten years after the alleged incident took place. When the other person is under the age of 18, the charges must be brought within ten years. However, when the other person is older than 18, the allotted time for prosecution to commence is five years.

If the charges are filed after the limitations period has run, the prosecution may still file charges as long as that occurs within five years of:

  • The State’s discovery of evidence through DNA analysis
  • The State’s initial awareness of a recording that supports criminal charges
  • A person confessing to the crime

If you are charged with a Level 1 felony, charges may be filed at any point. In other words, there is not a time restriction as to when the State may charge an offender with rape as a Level 1 felony, whether one year or 50 years have passed since the offense.

Contact an Indiana Rape Defense Lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP

If you have been accused of or charged with an offense under the Indiana rape statute, you face potentially serious consequences that can dramatically change your life. The best way to fight such charges—and protect your freedom and future—is by hiring an experienced Indiana rape defense lawyer. For help defending yourself against a rape charge or other sex crime in Indiana, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 857-0160 or send us a message.

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