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Columbus Rape Defense Attorney

The accusation alone will change your life: rape. Rape indictments are often considered convictions in Ohio’s court of public opinion. As such, a strong defense is necessary to protect the accused from both the negative reproductions of a rape accusation and an unsubstantiated sexual assault conviction. Rape charges are often difficult to prosecute because of the interplay between the parties’ subjective mindsets at the time of the offense. An alleged offender with a good faith belief a sexual encounter was consensual may be shocked to learn his accuser was a minor or the victim of human trafficking. Rape accusations against certain high-powered politicians, athletes, and celebrities have also unfortunately been falsified for publicity, revenge, or financial exploitation.

Choosing the Right Columbus Rape Defense Lawyer

Ohio rape charges don’t fall into a single category. From aggravated sexual battery to statutory rape, the law under which you’re charged dictates the proof necessary for conviction. Rape accusations are overwhelming, but you’re innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The experienced Columbus criminal rape defense attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm understand the intricacies of Ohio sexual assault law and the delicate nature of rape accusations. Our dedicated Ohio rape defense lawyers will zealously and professionally protect the rights of those accused of rape in Ohio. Contact us today online or by calling 614-444-1900 for your free and confidential rape defense consultation.

Ohio’s Comprehensive Information Center for Columbus Rape Charges

  1. Overview of Rape Charges in Columbus
  2. What Constitutes “Rape” in Ohio? – Understanding the Difference Between Rape under Ohio Code § 2907.02 and Sexual Battery under Ohio Code § 2907.03
  3. Columbus Sex Crimes Investigations
  4. Analyzing the Categories of § 2907.02 Rape Charges in Ohio
  5. Special Investigators and Prosecutors for Rape
  6. Testimonial Evidence Common in Rape Cases
  7. The Ohio Criminal Court Process for Rape Cases
  8. Possible Defenses against Rape
  9. Possible Direct Penalties for Rape Convictions
  10. Sex Offender Registration Requirements
  11. Collateral Consequences for Rape in Ohio 
  12. Columbus Rape FAQs
  13. Resources for Rape and Sexual Assault 

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1.  Overview of Rape Charges in Columbus

Rape is generally prosecuted in Ohio state court pursuant to Ohio Code § 2907.02, which comprehensively criminalizes rape as a felony in the first degree. This is the highest-level non-capital felony offense in Ohio. Rape is often the most severe offense charged in an indictment unless it acts as an aggravating factor sufficient to charge an offender with capital homicide. Rape is also a federal offense if the offender is otherwise subject to federal criminal jurisdiction. In either case, those convicted of rape in Ohio are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence ranging from 5 years to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The severity of these consequences means you cannot be lax in your defense, but it also means Ohio prosecutors must prove an intricate and often subjective set of facts beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain an Ohio rape conviction. 


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2.  What Constitutes “Rape” in Ohio? – Understanding the Difference Between Rape under Ohio Code § 2907.02 and Sexual Battery under Ohio Code § 2907.03

Ohio’s definition of rape is nuanced, meaning there isn’t a single, generalized definition of the offense. Instead, legal rape occurs when the parties are “engaged in sexual conduct” under a certain set of facts. All of the following scenarios qualify as rape under Ohio Code § 2907.02 provided the parties are simultaneously engaged in “sexual conduct”:

  • The offender administered a drug, intoxicant, or controlled substance to the victim to prevent resistance to the conduct, whether administered forcibly, on threat of force, or deception, and the parties were not married and living together.
  • The victim is under the age of 13, regardless of whether the offender knew his/her actual age. All marriages to someone under the age of 13 are void in Ohio. As such, it is no defense that the parties were “married” at the time of the sexual conduct regardless of its legality in another jurisdiction, religious ceremony, or parental permission. The marriage is not deemed to legally exist.
  • The victim’s ability to resist or consent to the sexual conduct was impaired by his/her advanced age, mental condition, and/or physical ailments, and the parties were not married and living together.
  • The offender purposely compels the other person to submit to the sexual conduct by force or threat of force.

Prosecutors do not need to prove physical resistance to the sexual conduct. Lack of resistance or protest is not a defense to rape if any of the above qualifying facts are present. Sexual conduct outside the presence of these facts is not rape in Ohio, but it may qualify as sexual battery under Ohio Code § 2907.03 or an interrelated sex offense. Sexual battery is a lesser-included offense in most rape cases and includes the following:

  • Submission to sexual conduct due to mistaken identity, i.e., switching places with an identical twin
  • Knowledge that the victim is unaware the act is being committed even if the offender believed he/she would have otherwise consented
  • Sexual conduct between a child and his/her parent, step-parent, legal guardian, or someone who stands in the place of such a person
  • Sexual conduct between minors and those in an authoritative relationship with the minor, i.e., teacher, counselor, coach, cleric, or police officer
  • Sexual conduct between an incarcerated individual and an employee of the detention facility

Importantly, the crime of sexual battery also criminalizes sexual conduct between parties when the offender knows the victim’s mental or physical control is impaired or when the offender coerces the person to submit. These scenarios intentionally overlap with behavior otherwise criminalized as rape in Ohio and act as a “catch-all” for prosecutors unable to prove the specific facts necessary for a rape conviction. A compressive overview of sexual battery in Ohio is provided by the Joslyn Law Firm’s Comprehensive Information Center for Columbus Sexual Battery Charges, and an experienced Columbus rape defense attorney may be able to have rape charges reduced to sexual battery.


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3.  Columbus Rape Investigations 

Sexual assault, abuse, and rape allegations necessitate the most sensitive and difficult investigations in the Ohio criminal justice system. Not only do such investigations involve delicate physical evidence, detectives, prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys alike must often ask embarrassing and difficult questions of the victim, defendant, and their loved ones. Investigators may dig into your previous relationships, question disgruntled ex-partners, and force you, your friends, and your family to discuss your sexual history, preferences, and character. Rape investigations are uncomfortable and often traumatic for both the alleged victim and offender. Sometimes, the accused will plead guilty simply to avoid social harassment and the airing of his sexual history at trial.

Ohio rape investigations typically begin with a report from the victim, concerned family/friend, or an Ohio mandatory reporter if the alleged victim is a minor. Mandatory reporters include: 

  • Clergy
  • Attorneys (excepting criminal defense attorneys)
  • Medical professionals, including doctors, dentist, and nurses
  • Social workers
  • School authorities, including teachers, school employees, and daycare workers
  • Child care workers and foster parents

Rape cases are often reported by emergency room professionals or physicians offices when the victim comes in to request a sexual assault forensic examination commonly referred to as a rape kit. These exams are typically performed by a designated rape nurse or physician trained to handle sexual assault examinations. These “kits” form the evidentiary basis of most major rape prosecutions in Ohio. They typically include the following: 

  • Test tubes and swabs for taking biological samples from the victim’s body, including oral, vaginal, and rectal smears to test for DNA
  • Nail clippers and storage container to collect DNA, fiber, or related evidence from under a victim’s nails
  • Evidentiary storage bags for a victim’s clothing
  • A comb and storage bag to gather foreign hairs from the victim

 Rape kits at most major Columbus hospitals also contain evidentiary sealing tap, forms, handling instructions, and contact information for local law enforcement agencies and advocates.

Rape kits are available for victims reporting a sexual assault even up to six weeks after the alleged sexual conduct. Refusal to submit to an exam or reports made after it’s possible to collect DNA evidence are red flags for many investigators when a reasonable explanation for the delay isn’t provided. Evidence obtained from a rape kit is often sufficient for certain strict liability rape complaints, i.e., the victim was under the age of 13. 

For other types of rape complaints, rape kits aren’t enough as the same DNA, fingernail, and hair evidence is often found after a consensual sexual encounter. As such, investigators will look for bruising, bleeding, torn clothing, and other evidence of nonconsensual violence or struggle. They will also take blood samples from the victim to test for foreign substances, i.e., the date rape drug, and likely ask the victim to submit to a professional sexual assault interview. Taken together, a combination of DNA evidence and a victim’s testimony that a sexual encounter was nonconsensual will typically result in an Ohio rape indictment.  

No matter the accusation, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees defendants the right to confront and question all witnesses against them, including any accusers. Inherent in this process is the right to have a criminal defense attorney interview and cross-examine your accuser to ensure his/her truthfulness, establish your defenses, and/or create a reasonable doubt as to the accusations and evidence against you. It’s essential for your Columbus rape defense attorney to delicately balance zealous advocacy with situational compassion and professionalism during such interviews. Judges and juries seldom look kindly on aggressive criminal defense attorneys who seem to attack an alleged victim even if it’s necessary for your defense. Ohio rape defense attorneys must be experienced sexual assault criminal defense lawyers who know how to get information without creating bias against their clients. The Columbus rape defense lawyers at the Joslyn Law Firm are among the elite Ohio sexual assault defense attorneys able to strike this balance.


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4.  Analyzing the Categories of § 2907.02 Rape Charges in Columbus

As there is no “catch-all” definition of rape in Ohio, to sustain a rape case, prosecutors must prove each of the criminal elements specified in one of the four enumerated categories of rape under Ohio Code § 2907.02. This includes presenting legally obtained and admissible evidence to satisfy each of the categorical facts listed below beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  • Involuntary Intoxication: Prosecutors have the burden of showing that (1) the parties were not married and living together at the time of the alleged offense; (2) the parties engaged in “sexual conduct,” defined generally as any type of sexual penetration of another’s body; (3) the offender administered a drug, intoxicating substance, or intoxicant to the victim; (4) the administration of the intoxicant was done secretly, i.e., slipped into a drink, forcefully, on threat of force, or by deception, i.e., “This will help you relax”; (5) the drug/intoxicant substantially impaired the alleged victim’s personal judgment or physical control, and (6) the drug/intoxicant was administered to prevent the victim’s resistance to the sexual conduct.
  • Predatory Statutory Rape: This is a strict liability crime. Prosecutors need only prove that the victim was under the age of 13 at the time any type of sexual conduct occurred between the victim and defendant.
  • Mental or Physical Impairment: Prosecutors must show that (1) the parties were not married and living together at the time of the offense; (2) the victim’s ability to consent or resist the sexual conduct was substantially impaired by a mental or physical condition or by his/her advanced age, i.e., someone in a nursing home; and (3) the offender knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was under such an impairment at the time of the sexual conduct.
  • Force/Threat of Force: Prosecutors need only show that (1) the parties engaged in sexual conduct; (2) the offender compelled the victim to submit to the sexual conduct by force or threat of force; and (3) the compulsion was purposeful. 

Prosecutors need not prove the victim physically resisted the offender to sustain a rape conviction. Further, the offender’s subjective belief that the victim was consenting or would have consented to the sexual conduct is not considered if the qualifying facts are present. Prosecutors unable to prove all of the elements in one or more of the above categories cannot prove rape, and the offender may be acquitted or convicted of a lesser included offense such as sexual battery.


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5.  Special Investigators and Prosecutors for Rape

The sensitive and emotional nature of rape investigations has traumatized innocent victims and accused persons alike. A stigma attaches to those accused of rape and rape victims, which has historically affected rape investigations. Victims have reported being almost as traumatized by sexual assault investigations and prosecutions as they were by the rape itself. Further, occasionally parents of minors over the age of 13 to file police reports based on their child’s claim of “rape” after the child was discovered to have engaged in consensual sexual activity. Sometimes minors feel pressured into claiming the sexual conduct was coerced or nonconsensual to avoid parental punishment without realizing the legal implications for the alleged offender. The alleged victim often feels trapped by the system after making a false claim to a parent because he/she fears parental and legal punishment for falsifying the claim. 

For these, among other reasons, most major law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and prosecutor’s offices have designated rape detectives, doctors, and prosecutors trained to conduct these sensitive investigations. Columbus has specific sexual assault squads and response teams who handle rape claims and cases. Ohio sexual assault detectives are often required to attend specialized training on how to effectively question sexual assault victims without causing trauma but while also testing their truthfulness. Rape prosecutors often receive similar training. Rape victims are also entitled to have a special counsel appointed for them to protect their interest during evidentiary hearings, and children often have a guardian ad litem advocate for them during a prosecution.


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6.  Common Testimonial Evidence in Rape Cases

One of the most hotly criticized aspects of rape prosecutions is the evidentiary discovery process, i.e., what evidence is admissible to prove/disprove a victim’s claim. Because many rape prosecutions involve a proverbial “he said/she said,” investigating officers and attorneys have often looked to the parties’ sexual history for answers. For example, investigators have historically used a victim’s past consent to sexual conduct against her or questioned an offender’s past sexual partners for evidence of sexual deviance. These tactics have caused serious debate among legal practitioners about what type of evidence is admissible in a rape case aside from legally gathered physical evidence, such as from a rape kit. The Ohio rape statute addresses this issue by: 

  • Prohibiting use of the victim’s past sexual history, instances of sexual activity, opinion evidence regarding his/her sexual activity, and sexual reputation at trial
  • Prohibiting use of the defendant’s past sexual history, instances of sexual activity, opinion evidence regarding sexual activity, and sexual reputation at trial
  • Only admitting evidence of the parties’ sexual history if the evidence is material to the case and involves (1) the origin of semen, pregnancy, or an STD, (2) is related to the past sexual history between the parties, and/or (3) goes directly to the defendant’s motive for committing the rape so long as proving the motive is necessary to sustain a conviction.
  • Requiring the trial judge to resolve any issues of admissibility of the above evidence behind closed doors (“in chambers”) prior to trial to avoid unnecessary arguments and the introduction of prohibited evidence in open court

Physical and testimonial evidence that does not go to the parties’ sexual history is generally permissible, provided it complies with the Ohio Rules of Evidence. Such evidence generally includes:

  • Testimony from friends, family, and/or treating physicians about the victim’s/defendant’s actions and mental state after the alleged sexual conduct
  • Testimony from expert witnesses, such as doctors and psychologists, opining about any physical or emotional injuries and the likelihood these stemmed from rape
  • Evidence from a rape kit
  • DNA test results

Physical evidence that was mishandled during the collection/storage/testing process or too far removed from the alleged rape may be excluded from consideration as unreliable or unduly prejudicial upon motion by defense counsel.


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7.  The Ohio Criminal Court Process for Rape Cases 

The criminal process differs slightly for Ohio rape cases due to the need for additional evidentiary hearings and certain testimonial considerations. It otherwise follows the traditional constitutional and criminal legal process for Ohio prosecutions, including:

  • Indictment: Because rape is a felony, the Fifth Amendment requires the accused be indicated by a grand jury before charges are officially filed. This means any evidence obtained against you must be considered by a group of your peers to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to file rape charges.
  • Initial Appearance/Arraignment: During this appearance before the court the defendant is officially informed of the charges against him/her, read his/her rights, asked if he/she pleads guilty or not guilty to the charges provided a defense attorney is present, and has bail set, if any. If a criminal defense attorney has not been retained, the defendant may hire private rape defense counsel or request the public defender. He/she will be given the opportunity to speak with an attorney before entering a plea.
  • Discovery: Prosecutors are required to turn over all relevant evidence obtained during the criminal investigation, including the names and contact information for all witnesses they intend to call. They must also provide any expert or medical reports they intend to use at trial. The defense has the same obligation but may review the prosecution’s evidence, interview all witnesses, and gather evidence in your defense.
  • Pre-Trial Motion Hearings: During the discovery phase and at least a week or so before trial, the parties can move the court to grant certain relief. A defense attorney may move to drop the charges due to constitutional violations, exclude illegally seized evidence from consideration, and/or request any other pre-trial relief.
  • Private Evidentiary Hearings for Rape Cases: This added hearing is required if the parties intend to introduce evidence of the victim and/or defendant’s sexual history at trial. The judge must determine whether the evidence is being introduced for a proper purpose, i.e., to prove motive, and will limit use of the evidence to that purpose.
  • Final Pretrial Hearing: The judge will address any final motions and set the matter for trial.
  • Void Dire (Jury Selection): The first day of trial typically consists of jury selection, where both sides will interview prospective jurors for bias and work to select a fair and competent jury.
  • Trial: Once the jury is selected, the trial begins with the parties opening statements followed by the prosecution’s presentation of evidence. Your criminal defense attorney can cross-examine witnesses and object during this time but cannot generally introduce evidence. The defense presents evidence once the prosecution rests, and the prosecution may be given the chance to rebut that evidence. Lastly, the attorneys give closing statements, and the judge charges the jury with instructions regarding Ohio rape law.
  • Verdict: The jury may deliberate nearly as long as necessary to reach a verdict but may also be a “hung jury,” which means they couldn’t decide. You will be release if the jury hands down a verdict of not guilty of all charges.
  • Sentencing: Defendants are not sentenced immediately after a guilty verdict. Instead, the court takes time to review the sentencing laws and any legal aggravating factors that may require life imprisonment for rape. These factors may include raping a child under 10, causing physical harm to the victim, or having multiple rape or sexual assault convictions.

Following the sentencing, a criminal defense attorney can appeal all preserved aspects of the case to the Ohio Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Your rape defense attorney may also assist you with post-conviction petitions, such as a petition for release to the federal courts or pardon requests, that public defendants are not required to assist clients with.


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8.  Possible Defenses against Rape by a Columbus Rape Defense Lawyer

The defenses available to defendants accused of rape depend on the circumstances of each case. This includes any delay between the alleged rape and forensic rape examination, the relationship (if any) between the parties, and the specific category of rape being charged. Certain pretrial defenses are available in all criminal prosecutions. These include:

  • Constitutional Challenges: Failure to properly indict a defendant, appoint effective defense counsel, and/or prosecute the crime in accordance with the “speedy trial” deadline are common constitutional defenses to criminal charges.
  • Evidentiary Defenses: Any evidence obtained to support rape charges must have been gathered in accordance with the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unlawful and unreasonable searches and seizures and requires law enforcement to have a warrant to obtain most evidence. Evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, tainted during the testing process, or gathered/stored improperly may be excluded from consideration at trial. In many cases, illegally obtained DNA samples linking you to the crime may result in the dismissal of rape charges after exclusion.
  • Statute of Limitations Defense: The general statute of limitations for rape in Ohio is 25 years. This means a rape prosecution must commence within 25 of the crime or within 25 years of the victim reaching 18. There are some exceptions to these limitations, including a later discovered DNA match. In such cases, DNA matches made after 25 years extend the statute of limitations by five years.

The most common rape defenses raised by experienced criminal rape defense attorneys include: 

  • Consent: The key to rape’s criminalization is the victim’s lack of clear or legal consent to the sexual conduct. The defendant’s subjective belief that the victim consented is not enough to justify the conduct unless he/she presents evidence sufficient to show that a reasonable person in his situation would have believed the encounter was consensual. Consent is a complete defense to rape unless the victim was disabled, under the age of 13, or you’ve been charged with statutory rape.
  • DNA/Rape Kit Defense: DNA evidence after a sexual encounter is normally only obtainable for six weeks thereafter, and that’s only with a specialized testing kit. Regular rape kit examinations must generally be undertaken within three days of the encounter to obtain DNA evidence. A substantial delay in submitting to a forensic examination and/or filing a police report may result in a loss of crucial DNA evidence. An experienced criminal rape defense attorney may argue that evidence from a delayed rape kit, i.e., a traditional exam conducted two weeks after the alleged rape, is more prejudicial than probative.
  • Marriage: One of the major exceptions to rape, aside from rape that involves the use of force/threat of force, is marriage. The parties must have been legally married and living together at the time of the alleged rape. While this spousal rape exception is often criticized, it is not uncommon for allegations of sexual assault to arise during acrimonious divorce and child custody proceedings. These allegations may be used to discredit another party, but you may not be prosecuted for certain categories of rape if you were married and cohabiting at the time of the sexual conduct.

Both a lack of resistance and lack of knowledge as to the victim’s age are never defenses to rape in Ohio. Even if you were manipulated into believing a victim was over the age of 13, this is not a defense to rape. 


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9.  Possible Direct Penalties for Rape Convictions 

Rape is a first-degree felony in Ohio with a possible sentence ranging from 5 years to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. While Ohio judges typically have broad discretion during sentencing, this discretion is limited by certain statutory mandatory penalties in Ohio. These include:

  • A minimum of five years imprisonment for rape facilitated by involuntary intoxication or force
  • A sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the violent rape of a child under ten years of age as set forth by the Ohio sexually violent predator statute

The judge has discretion, although is not required to sentence a convicted rapist to a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if the rape was of a child under the age of 10, the rape was facilitated by violence and/or the victim was physically harmed, or the offender has previously been convicted of rape or a substantially similar crime in any jurisdiction.

The only exception to the child sexual offender life sentence is if the offender was under the age of 16 and the victim over the age of 10 at the time of the sexual conduct. The offender must not have caused any serious physical harm to the victim, and the offender cannot have been previously convicted of a similar crime. The offender’s actions are still punishable as rape and as a felony in the first degree but not by life imprisonment. 

Additional mandatory and/or direct penalties for a rape conviction include:

  • Mandatory registration on the Ohio sex offender registry for life
  • Possible designation as a sexually violent predator/child sexual predator
  • Mandatory post-release control (probation) following completion of the prison term
  • Mandatory restitution (compensation) to the victim for any costs incurred as a result of the rape
  • Payment of all investigation and court costs
  • A fine of up to $20,000
  • Designation as a felon

These are serious consequences that judges often have no choice but to impose. Avoiding a rape conviction is the only way to avoid the majority of these life-altering penalties.


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10. Sex Offender Registration Requirements

Anyone convicted of rape is considered a “sex offender” in Ohio. Further, anyone convicted of violent rape or child rape may be designated as a sexually violent predator or child sex offender. The offender will appear on the Ohio sex offender registry, and his/her information will be available to the public. While some sex offender’s information is only visible to law enforcement officials, this is not the case with rapists. In fact, a rapist’s information and location will be sent to all neighbors within 1200 feet of his/her residential address upon release. This will include a photo and warn neighbors to monitor and report any suspicious/unlawful activity. The information appearing on the registry will include the offender’s:

  • Legal name and/or aliases (public)
  • Photo (public)
  • Home address (public)
  • Work address (public)
  • Conviction type and/or criminal designation (public)
  • Vehicle information (public)
  • Screen names (private)
  • Phone numbers (private)
  • Email address (private)
  • Any internet handles or alternative designations (private) 

Anyone listed on the Ohio sex offender registry is subject to strict residency, work, and travel restrictions. He is required to check in with law enforcement to confirm his address every 90 days for the rest of his life and is subject to random residency checks by local law enforcement. These restrictions include the inability to live near a school, hold a public job, and utilize certain public facilities such as parks, libraries, and pools. Rapists are Tier III sex offenders in Ohio, typically for life.


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11. Collateral Consequences of a Rape Conviction 

Aside from the direct penalties of an Ohio rape conviction, certain collateral consequences are associated with serious felony charges such as rape. These often include:

  • Ineligibility for certain public benefits and housing
  • Loss of the right to vote
  • Loss of all firearms rights
  • Loss of ability to foster/adopt children
  • Loss of child custody
  • Inability to travel outside the state or county
  • Ineligibility for public jobs
  • Inability to work for most major companies
  • Difficulty obtaining a mortgage, loan, or financing
  • Inability to attend certain church services and use public facilities
  • Inability to obtain certain recreational licenses

 The nature of your direct and collateral consequences often depends on the specific facts of the offense, your age at the time of the offense, and your criminal history.


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12. Columbus Rape FAQs

 The following are some of the most common questions asked by criminal rape defendants.

 1. What is Considered Rape in Ohio?

Any type of sexual penetration, including vaginal, anal, or oral, with a body part or object occurring when the victim has been (1) drugged by the offender; (2) is under the age of 13; (3) is physical or mentally unable to resist and/or comprehend the sexual conduct; or (4) is forced to submit to the act by force or threat of force.

2. What is the Age of Consent in Ohio?

16 if there is less than a four-year age difference between the parties, or 18 if the offender is more than four years older than the 18-year-old. For example, a 17-year-old girl cannot legally consent to sexual conduct with a 25-year-old but may consent to sexual conduct with a 20-year-old.

 3. What is the Typical Punishment for Rape in Ohio?

Rape is a felony in the first degree in Ohio and is typically punishable from five years to life imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the offense. There is a minimum prison term of five years for most rape offenses, and offenders are required to pay fines, restitution, court costs, and register as a sexual offender in Ohio.

 4. What is the Difference Between Statutory Rape and Rape?

Ohio has both a general rape statute and what’s commonly referred to as a “statutory rape” law. Statutory rape in Ohio is called “unlawful sexual contact with a minor” and differs from rape in that each party must have been completely “consenting,” but the law considers one of the parties too young to legally consent to sexual activity. Statutory rape occurs if the victim was 13, 14, or 15 at the time of the sexual conduct, or the victim was 16 or 17, and the offender was at least four years older than the victim. Any sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 13 is rape, not statutory rape, in Ohio regardless of the offender’s age.

5. Does Rape Make You a Sex Offender?

 Yes. A rape conviction will always make you a Tier III (highest level) sexual offender in Ohio, typically for life.

6. Can the Public Access the Sex Offender Registry?

Yes. The information for Tier III sexual offenders is available to the public in Ohio, with limited exceptions for offenders prosecuted as juveniles. This includes a photograph, name, the charges, and the offender’s residential and work addresses. Further, everyone living within 1200 feet of a convicted rapist receives a notification with the same information.

7. What are Common Defenses to Rape?

The most common and effective defenses to rape in Ohio include:

  • Consent
  • Lack of DNA evidence
  • Procedural Constitutional violations
  • Marriage of the parties at the time of the offense
  • Age/diminished capacity

 The type of defenses available to defendants depends on the category of rape charged and the circumstances of the offense.

 8. What Should You do if You are Arrested for Rape?

Rape is a life-changing, level 1 felony in Ohio. As such, do not speak to the police. Instead:

  • Immediately invoke your Fifth Amendment right to silence
  • Immediately invoke your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to an attorney
  • Immediately call an experienced Columbus rape defense lawyer at the Joslyn Law Firm at 614-444-1900 or demand to speak with a public defender

Be respectful of police but vigilant in repeatedly asserting your constitutional rights as a defendant. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty.


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13. Resources for Rape and Sexual Assault

If, after reviewing Ohio’s rape and sexual battery laws, you believe you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault or rape, immediately contact your local Columbus law enforcement and advocacy agency to file a report. Most major law enforcement agencies have a designated officer trained to work with victims of sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. This includes providing any protection deemed necessary, advocacy during rape exams, and help obtaining medical and legal resources. Minors should consider confiding in a parent or trusted adult, such as a teacher or nurse. Further, there are multiple advocacy organizations dedicated to aiding victims of sexual assault throughout the legal process. These agencies may assign you a special legal advocate and/or guardian to help you file a report, protect you during examinations, and guide you through the criminal process at no cost. Such agencies include:

Those accused of rape or who wish to obtain more information about rape offenses and defenses may contact the Joslyn Law Firm for a free rape defense and information consultation today online or by calling 614-444-1900. They may also contact the Ohio Office of the Public Defender for more information.


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Call a Columbus Rape Defense Attorney for Help

The dedicated Columbus rape defense attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm will zealously and professionally protect the rights of those accused of rape in Ohio. Contact our Columbus office today online or by calling 614-444-1900 for your free and confidential Ohio rape defense consultation.


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