Rape remains one of the most serious and one of the most publicly shamed offences punished by the criminal law of England and Wales.
If you have been arrested or charged with rape, it is likely that you are feeling extremely stressed and concerned about what might happen to you next, particularly at any trial that may result from the charges.
In the article that follows, we will give you expert information on the crime of rape, how it is punished, and how you might defend yourself with the help of an expert rape solicitor in London.
Rape is the type of crime that can affect every aspect of your life, whether or not you actually committed it.
Even being accused of such a heinous crime is enough for you to lose your job, your business, your friends and family, and other things that mean a lot to you. For this reason alone, it is imperative that you get the right advice from an expert rape solicitor and learn how best to protect yourself and those you care about from the fallout of any accusations or criminal proceedings against you.
Whether or not this is the first time you have been accused of a criminal offence, you may be very concerned about the investigative process that will follow. The reality is that with any crime as serious as rape and other sexual assaults, the police and other investigative officers (for example, forensic experts) will be highly intrusive.
If you are being investigated for a rape offence, is not unusual to feel like every aspect of your life is being looked at in immense detail. There is, of course, a very good reason for this: rape is one of the most harmful crimes that one person can commit against another, and accordingly the police and other law enforcement officials are keen to make sure that no stone goes unturned in investigating potential offenders.
What this means for you, as someone who has been accused of this crime, is that you need to get the right help as early as possible. Finding an experienced rape solicitor is not as difficult as it is might first team, and the process may not be as daunting once you have the right information in front of you.
Have you been arrested or charged with a rape offence?
If you or someone you care about, such as a friend or family member, has been charged with rape, it is understandable that you are extremely anxious to secure information about what might happen next. Any criminal trial can be very confusing, and this is especially the case with rape trial where there are so many additional aspects to be considered.
The first step in managing this high level of anxiety is to get the right help. Find a rape solicitor that is not only qualified and experienced in this area of law, but that will take the time to truly understand your situation and figure out a bespoke defence strategy per the exact facts of your case. There is no blueprint for successfully defending a rape charge, which is why the best rape solicitors will make extensive efforts to prepare exhaustively for your defence, covering all angles and leaving nothing to chance.
To find out how the specialist rape and sexual offences team at Stuart Miller Solicitors could help you, arrange a free consultation to talk through your options today.
What should I do if I am arrested or charged with rape offence?
Rape offences especially have a very high degree of focus on victim protection. For this reason, you should not make any contact with the person who is alleged to be the victim of your crime, as it may be seen as you trying to pressure them into withdrawing their statements or otherwise trying to get the charges dropped against you.
The importance of not contacting the victim cannot be understated here. Even a failed attempt to contact the victim could be seen as wrongdoing on your part, or at least the prosecution will be able to play it that way if it goes to trial. Whether or not the police have told you not to contact the alleged victim, you should make sure to maintain your distance for the duration of an investigation or trial against you. This can be a very difficult thing to do, especially if you believe you are being accused falsely (your natural tendency is, of course, to try to defend yourself against your accuser), but it is imperative that you stay away to protect yourself.
Another difficult thing to do, which is perhaps equally as important as not contacting the alleged victim, is to co-operate with the police in as calm a manner as possible. Undoubtedly, you will be very upset and remaining calm is going to be a tough thing to do, but it can make a world of difference to your case if you do not cause any further trouble once the allegation has been made against you.
That is not to say, however, that you should blindly answer the police’s questions or allow them to search your property if they do not appear to have the appropriate permissions to do so. What is critical is that you find a rape solicitor to help you from the very beginning of your case, so that you know exactly which questions you should answer and when, and exactly what needs to happen in order for the police to search your house, your workplace, or confiscate your electronic devices.
What type of actions are considered a rape offence?
The law defines rape as:
- Intentional penetration with the penis, by the defendant
- of the victim’s vagina, anus or mouth
- either without the consent of the victim, or without the reasonable belief that the victim has consented.
The above present definition of rape is found in Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
As you can imagine, rape can occur in a number of situations and in a number of different relationships. It may be the case that you know the person who accused you of rape, or it may be that you have never met them before. Similarly, it could be that you stand accused after the first time you had sexual relations with them, or it could be after several such interactions.
Always critical to a rape case is the issue of consent. It is, in fact, one of the central things that will be debated and toiled over at your trial, if it goes that far. Accordingly, the court will specifically be looking for evidence that the alleged victim did not consent to the penetration of their vagina, anus, or mouth with your penis. Such evidence might include:
- the victim’s testimony that they told you ‘no’ multiple times as you tried to penetrate them
- CCTV evidence showing the victim trying to push you away from them outside a bar, for example, which demonstrates their unwillingness to engage in sexual relations with you
- the victim’s verbal recounting that they agreed to sexual touching, but not to penetration, and that you ignored their wishes and proceeded to penetrate them anyway
What happens during a rape investigation?
Rape investigations are, for good reason, extensive. With rape being such a serious crime, many alleged perpetrators go to great lengths to cover up evidence that may link them to the crime, or that may even just make them seem suspicious of having committed it.
During the investigation, the police are looking for evidence to support the prosecution’s case against you. In this respect, it is very helpful to know what exactly the prosecution might be relying upon to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime.
Such evidence may include:
- DNA and other biometric information
- evidence from medical professionals as to any injuries caused during the alleged rape
- blood tests
- swabs and other tests that detect foreign bodily fluids, such as the alleged perpetrators semen
- CCTV evidence
- text messages
- social media messages
- phone call records
- mobile phone signal data (showing location of the defendant at the time the alleged rape took place, for example)
- the testimony of both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim
- the testimony of any eye witnesses or character witnesses
- any other physical, medical, or digital evidence that may link the alleged perpetrator to the victim or the scene of the crime
To obtain such evidence, the police may use a variety of investigative tactics, including:
- ongoing surveillance
- searching your home or workplace
- forensically searching your car
- taking medical swabs
- collecting statements
- retrieving CCTV footage from relevant businesses or public buildings
- speaking with members of the community who might have witnessed the events before, during, or after the alleged crime
- confiscating your digital devices such as mobile phone, tablet, or computer
- gaining access to your emails or social media accounts
If at any point you are unsure whether you should be participating in the investigation or answering certain questions, contact your rape solicitor and get advice immediately.
Can the police search my home for a rape offence?
The police can, and likely will, search your home if you are accused of rape. The police are likely to search any location, including somewhere as private as your home, where they think they may be able to find evidence that links you to the crime.
If the police do search your home, you should know that no area is off limits to them. This means they could even search your child’s bedroom or your spouse’s garden shed if they believe you have committed the offence and could be concealing evidence somewhere in your house.
If you were involved in a conspiracy to commit rape case, the police are likely not only to search your home, but also the homes of those that stand accused with you.
Could I go to prison for rape offences?
If you are found guilty of a rape offence, you are highly likely to be sent to prison. The only possible exceptions are if you are under the age of 18, in which case a youth offenders or other consequence may be applicable, or if you have serious mental health issues that mean that hospitalisation under the Mental Health Act of 1983 would be more appropriate.
You are also likely to be sent to prison even if your involvement in the alleged offence was relatively minor. For example, if you are accused of conspiracy to rape and your involvement was to set up a meeting between the victim and the alleged perpetrator of rape, then you are still likely to be sent to prison.
What is the typical sentence for rape offences?
Typically, those found guilty of rape will be sentenced to between 4 and 19 years’ imprisonment. The court makes the decision on how to sentence someone based on a number of factors.
Factors that could lead to a longer sentence include:
- this being a repeat offence
- the offence being particularly violent
- the defendant causing extreme, often public, humiliation to the victim
- the victim being left with injuries or an STI/STD after the rape
- the defendant having done significant planning of the rape
- the defendant having coerced someone else to be involved in the rape
The maximum sentence possible is a life sentence, but this is reserved for the most serious of cases where there were numerous aggravating factors that increased both the harm suffered by the victim and the culpability (blameworthiness) of the defendant. If a life sentence is given, usually the individual will not actually spend the rest of their life behind bars. Rather, they will serve probably 15 years of their sentence and then be eligible for parole, after which they will remain under police supervision and on conditions for the remainder of their life (such as having to report to the police at regular intervals).
Read more about rape sentencing here.
What defences can be used for rape offences?
Rape is an offence that has a number of ‘specific’ defences, which means that the defence exists solely in relation to that particular crime. These include:
That penetration with the penis did not take place
Sometimes, you can argue that while a sexual assault did take place, it was not actually a rape. In this instance, you are saying that you did engage in sexual activity, but you did not actually penetrate the victim with your penis, and as such, the specific offence of rape did not occur. If this succeeds, you are likely instead to be charged with a separate lesser offence, which may attract a shorter sentence.
Because the offence of rape hinges on consent, you may have a defence if you can prove that the victim consented to the activity, or that you had a reasonable belief that they consented.
Several other general defences apply to rape. Read more about rape defences here.
What mitigating factors may be considered for a rape offence?
The courts recognise that not every case is the same and that the pressures and strains of real-life can affect people’s judgement, and accordingly they are willing to recognise some mitigating factors (i.e., facts that make you less culpable, and therefore likely to get a lesser sentence if convicted) even in rape cases.
- showing genuine remorse for what happened
- taking steps to make amends, for example by making an apology
- having someone attest to your otherwise exemplary character
- having drug or alcohol problems that caused your behaviour, and you taking steps on your own to get treatment
Will a conviction for rape go on my record?
Yes, a conviction for rape will go on your record. It is imperative that the police keep detailed records of those who commit offences in order that public safety can be maintained as far as possible.
Practically, this means that if anyone were to request a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on you, they would see details of your conviction. DBS checks are commonly requested by employers and some housing providers.
In addition to having a criminal record for rape, you will also be put on the Sex Offenders Register, which places a great number of restrictions on your daily life. You will remain on the register for a minimum of 7 years, depending on the length of your original sentence for the offence.
Read some Rape case examples here
How can Stuart Miller Solicitors help?
If you or someone you care about has been charged with rape, it is imperative that you get help from a highly experienced rape solicitor as soon as possible. Time really is of the essence given that the police will use highly invasive investigative tactics to try to uncover information and evidence that may be used against you.
The team at Stuart Miller Solicitors will listen to the specific facts of your case and help to compile the best bespoke defence possible. This means going through all evidence submitted by the prosecution and working with you to outline the best possible arguments and testimonies for your defence in court, if indeed it gets that far.
As every case is different, to find out how we can best assist you, please get in touch for a friendly and non-judgmental consultation.
Why choose Stuart Miller Solicitors?
The experts at Stuart Miller Solicitors stand out among the best rape solicitors in London. With decades of experience defending thousands of people at the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court, you are in safe hands with a highly successful team.
One of our notable wins includes clearing a man accused of raping a woman after they met on the London Underground. The prosecution alleged the pair had never met, and failed to produce CCTV evidence that was requested by the defendant’s legal team. In the end, Stuart Miller Solicitors was able to secure 81 hours of CCTV footage that, previously, was said not even to have existed. The evidence proved that they had spent time together, undermining the prosecution’s case and allowing the man to walk free.
What will happen when I instruct rape solicitors?
Every case is different, and nowhere is that truer than in rape cases where people’s most personal details are revealed and probed. When you instruct an expert at Stuart Miller Solicitors, we will take care to understand every detail of your case early on and will treat you with respect and understanding from day one, no matter whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty.
After having an initial consultation to walk through your options, we will begin to compile your defence strategy, and advise you every step of the way.
To find out how best to proceed and what exactly will happen next, instruct Stuart Miller Solicitors by arranging a free no obligation consultation today.
Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?
Unsure of what to do next? Want to speak to someone confidentially before making any commitments? Whatever you feel you need, please give our team a call and we will work with you (even anonymously to begin with, if you prefer) to figure out the best way to proceed in your case. Getting in touch is easy and at no point will you be pressured to do anything you are not happy with. If you’re not quite ready to speak to someone yet, but you need to know what to do right now, you can send us a message on WhatsApp to get started.