Rape-Defense-Lawyer.jpg
Philadelphia-Rape-Lawyer.jpg

Philadelphia Rape Defense Lawyers | Fighting Rape and Sexual Assault Charges in PA and NJ

Our Criminal Lawyers Can Help with Rape and Sex Crimes Charges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Philadelphia, PA Sexual Assault Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein

Philadelphia, PA Sexual Assault Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein

There are often defenses to rape charges and other Megan's Law offenses like sexual assault, statutory rape, and indecent assault. Our award-winning defense attorneys zealously defend our clients when they are accused of all types of sex crimes. We have successfully handled many of these cases at trial and on appeal, and we are well-versed in the potential defenses to these serious, potentially life-altering charges. Our criminal lawyers will fight for you and work tirelessly to obtain the best possible result. That could include avoiding a conviction and registration on Pennsylvania's Megan's Law sex offender registry.

We offer a free 15-minute criminal defense strategy session in which we will begin to analyze the case against you, evaluate your options, and provide you with initial advice on what to do next. Society and law enforcement may be quick to judge the accused, but we are not. We keep all calls completely confidential, and we will not judge you in any way based on the fact that you are facing any kind of criminal charges. We understand what you are going through, and we can help you fight these serious charges using the skill and expertise that we have developed from defending numerous sexual assault cases. Call 267-225-2545 for a free criminal defense strategy session with one of our sex crimes attorneys.   

How does Pennsylvania law define Rape?

Accusations of rape are some of the most serious and explosive accusations that a person can make. Under Pennsylvania law, a person is guilty of rape when the person engages in sexual intercourse with another person through the use of forcible compulsion. There are two key definitions in the rape statute. First, the definition of sexual intercourse is important. Sexual intercourse,"in addition to its ordinary meaning, includes intercourse per os or per anus, with some penetration however slight; emission is not required." This means that sexual intercourse includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and it does require some form of penetration no matter how slight or brief.

Second, the definition of forcible compulsion is also important. The Pennsylvania crimes code defines forcible compulsion in the same manner as it is defined in the Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse statute. Forcible compulsion involves conduct such as preventing the other person from resisting by force or threats of force, having sexual intercourse with someone who is unconscious or incapable of consent due to a mental condition, giving drugs or alcohol to someone so that they cannot resist, or having sexual intercourse with someone who is less than 16 years old if the defendant is four years older than the complainant when the defendant and complainant are not married. More generally, forcible compulsion involves engaging in sexual intercourse without consent. 

Rape is always a first degree felony, and a conviction for rape will almost certainly pose significant consequences including likely jail time, lifetime registration on Megan's Law, and serious problems in obtaining employment. The stakes are extremely high in any rape case. Therefore, it is vital that you speak with one of our experienced sex crimes lawyers if you are facing rape charges or any other sex offense allegations. Most importantly, you need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who has experience dealing with serious sex offense charges before you make the decision as to whether you should speak with the police.  

Defenses to Rape Charges AND SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGES Under Pennsylvania Law

All citizens of the United States have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Philadelphia criminal lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire gives information on why this right is important and when to invoke it. If you are facing criminal charges or a police officer has asked you to come down to the station and give a statement, call us at 267-225-2545 to discuss your options. 

If you are charged with rape or the police are investigating allegations and have not yet brought charges, it is very important that you do not delay in speaking with a criminal defense attorney. There are often defenses to these types of charges, but presenting a successful defense often requires getting to work right away. 

Our Philadelphia sex offense lawyers have experience defending against rape charges and all types of other sex offenses. Depending on the allegations, there are a number of potential defenses in sex offense cases. Many people wait to speak with an attorney until after they have been arrested or charges have been brought by the police. This is usually a mistake. It is important to speak with a lawyer even if charges have not yet been brought because it may be possible for the defense to uncover evidence or witnesses which could influence the prosecution or detective's decision to bring charges in the first place. Therefore, we offer a free 15-minute strategy session to anyone who is facing rape charges or under investigation for any kind of criminal activity. 

Witness Credibility Defenses

In many cases, allegations involving sex offenses are going to revolve around the credibility of the complainant. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of sex offense cases do not involve strangers. Instead, sex crimes more often involve family members and other people who know each other. For this reason, the prosecution commonly seeks to present expert witnesses who will testify that it is not unusual for allegations to be reported after a significant delay both in cases which are fabricated and cases where sex assault truly happened.

In cases involving people who know each other, the identification of the defendant is generally not going to be at issue. Instead, depending on the allegations, the potential defenses are probably going to involve the credibility of the complainant, whether the complainant may have actually consented and later begun telling a different story, or whether the offensive touching was some sort of mistake or misunderstanding. In other words, the strongest defense could be that the complainant is not telling the truth. A prompt and thorough investigation of the allegations is absolutely critical in defending against rape charges because valuable evidence and helpful witnesses could be lost due to delay. 

Challenges to Identification Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

In cases involving strangers, credibility may still be an issue, but our sex crimes lawyers will also explore the possibility of challenging the prosecution's identification evidence. For example, we may be able to use cross-examination to show that the police arrested the wrong guy and followed improper procedures in conducting a lineup or photo array. Due to a growing consensus in the scientific community that there are significant problems with eyewitness identifications, the Philadelphia Police Department recently issued new police directives governing the procedures which detectives should follow when showing a photo array to a witness and asking the witness to make an identification. Unfortunately, it is all too common that the detectives take short cuts and do not follow the required procedures.

We may also be able to show flaws in the identification through the use of expert witnesses on eyewitness identification or by highlighting inconsistent witness testimony. It is not unusual for prosecutors to attempt to use forensic evidence to prove identification in sex crimes cases, but most forensic evidence is not as reliable or as clear as it seems on television, and many forms of forensic evidence are subject to challenges based on their accuracy and reliability. For example, if prosecutors are attempting to use DNA, fingerprint, hair matching, or some other type of forensic evidence in a rape case, it is often necessary to have an expert review law enforcement's methods and conclusions for errors. Every case is different, and depending on the allegations, there may be potential defenses to charges such as whether the police arrested the right person and whether the complainant is telling the truth. 

Immediate Investigation in Rape Cases Is Critical

An important fact to remember if you are under investigation is that helpful evidence is often lost very quickly due to delay. Surveillance video may be overwritten, or key witnesses may be lost or forget the details of what they saw. Given the serious consequences of a rape conviction, it is important that the defense also investigate immediately so that evidence is not lost, and when you retain us, our lawyers will immediately begin investigating your case. We have extremely talented investigators who are ready to seek out exculpatory evidence such as other witnesses and surveillance footage which may show that the incident did not happen or that there are problems with the complainant's credibility. Likewise, we will cross-examine the complainant in pre-trial hearings and at trial to show whether there are any inconsistencies in the statements made to police and testimony in court.

Zak T. Goldstein, Esq. - Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer for Sex Offenses

Zak T. Goldstein, Esq. - Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer for Sex Offenses

Motive to Fabricate

In today's society, people are often quick to assume that criminal allegations are true simply because the defendant has been accused of a crime. Our criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on protecting your constitutional rights and making sure the fact finder understands that you are innocent until proven guilty. We understand that just because someone said something happened does not make it true. There are a number of reasons why people accuse each other of crimes which did not happen. These reasons include anger, spite, jealousy, financial motivations, revenge and simple miscommunications. In many cases, the police and District Attorney bring charges based solely on the alleged victim's word, so we will investigate to determine whether there are reasons why the complainant may be making it up or exaggerating. It is always important to conduct a complete investigation into the allegations and investigate for possible alibi evidence or other evidence that show the contact could not have occurred. Rape cases also may involve challenging forensic evidence such as DNA through the use of expert witnesses.  

Our Philadelphia sex offense lawyers will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you, determine whether there may be any exculpatory evidence, and help you choose the best options and defenses to these charges. In some cases, it will be best to go to trial and seek an acquittal. In others, we may be able to negotiate pleas to other non-sex offense or less serious charges which will not trigger mandatory sex offender registration under Megan's Law. We may also determine that the evidence is strong and it is best to focus on obtaining a reduced jail sentence. The reality is that every case is different, and we can help you find the best options for your individual situation. We never recommend a plea just to save time or money. 

Sentencing for Rape Convictions

Goldstein Mehta LLC - Philadelphia Rape Defense Attorneys

Goldstein Mehta LLC - Philadelphia Rape Defense Attorneys

In most cases, the reality is that a conviction for rape carries jail time. Rape always requires lifetime registration with the Pennsylvania State Police through Megan's Law. As a general rule, first degree felonies may be punished by a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. However, rape charges carry increased potential maximum sentences under certain circumstances. For example, there is a ten year enhancement to the potential maximum where the Commonwealth proves that the defendant used some sort of date rape drug. If you are convicted of the rape of a child, meaning the victim was under the age of 13, then the maximum penalty doubles to a potential forty years in jail. Finally, if you are convicted of the rape of a child under the age of 13 and the child suffers serious bodily injury during the course of the assault, then the maximum potential sentence becomes life in prison. 

Following a rape conviction, the trial judge's natural inclination is likely not going to be one of sympathy towards the defendant. However, it is important to remember that because most Pennsylvania mandatory minimums have been eliminated by decisions of the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts, there is currently no mandatory minimum sentence for a rape conviction in Pennsylvania. This means that it is absolutely critical that if you are facing charges, you retain a criminal defense lawyer who has the experience to prepare both to challenge the charges at trial and to present a persuasive sentencing case to the judge in the event of a conviction.   

Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines for Rape Convictions

The sentencing judge exercises an enormous amount of discretion when deciding what sentence to impose on a defendant who has been convicted. For example, under the Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines, rape has an Offensive Gravity Score ranging from 12-14 depending on the circumstances and type of victim. Assuming even the lowest OGS of twelve and a defendant with a prior Record Score of 0, the defendant will face sentencing guidelines of 48-66 +/- 12 following a conviction. 

The Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines provide a range of possible minimum sentences for the judge to impose. Therefore, a guideline sentence for rape for someone with no prior record could range from a fully mitigated sentence with a minimum of 3 years in prison to a fully aggravated minimum sentence of 6.5 years in prison. In Pennsylvania, the maximum sentence must always be at least twice the minimum sentence, so the range of potential sentences is significant. Of course, these guidelines assume a conviction, and you should not assume that just because you have been charged, you will be convicted. Our experienced sex crimes lawyers know both how to challenge these cases in the courtroom and present persuasive arguments to the prosecution and judge in order to obtain reduced sentences in the event of a conviction. 

I'm innocent, but a detective wants to speak with me. Shouldn't I tell the police my side of the story?

Given the consequences of a conviction, you should never speak with the police about an allegation that you committed a sex crime like rape without first retaining counsel. The police are not joking when they tell you that everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. The Constitution prohibits the police and prosecution from suggesting to a judge or jury that the fact finder should infer guilt from your decision not to make a statement or your decision to speak with an attorney first. If you do make a statement and even the smallest detail can be proven false, the prosecution will argue to the jury that you knowingly lied and must be guilty. Only an experienced defense attorney can properly advise you on whether it makes sense to sit down with detectives and give a statement. You should not do so without speaking with counsel first. 

Case Study - Commonwealth v. R.M. - Attorney Goldstein Wins Acquittal for Client Accused of Rape

Defense Attorney Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won an important case for a client accused of rape, sexual assault, and other related charges. In the case of Commonwealth v. R.M., Attorney Goldstein successfully argued to the judge who presided over the bench trial that the complainant had fabricated the allegations and that the court should not believe her testimony beyond a reasonable doubt. In response, the judge found R.M. guilty only of minor, non-sex crime misdemeanors and sentenced him to time served. The judge ordered immediate parole for R.M.  

In this case, the complainant alleged that she had been dating R.M. for a few months. At some point, the relationship began to to go south, and R.M. and the complainant had a fight. The fight began with a verbal argument before turning physical, but the complainant claimed that it eventually escalated into R.M. holding her down and having sex with her after being told no. The complainant reported this incident to the police, and prosecutors charged R.M. with multiple sex crimes.

At trial, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that this testimony was unreliable by thoroughly investigating the case and effectively cross-examining the complainant on significant inconsistencies in her statements.  

First, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that the complainant had a motive to fabricate the allegations against R.M. because R.M. had moved out of their shared home and begun dating another woman prior to the complainant making the allegations.  

Second, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that the complainant’s reaction to the alleged incident was very unusual; instead of going to the police, the complainant went directly to R.M.’s probation officer to report the incident. This suggested that the complainant was more focused on getting R.M. locked up for revenge than in reporting an actual crime.

Third, Attorney Goldstein’s investigator obtained a copy of the Protection from Abuse Order that the complainant obtained against R.M. shortly after the alleged sexual assault. In this PFA, which was made just days after the incident, the complainant claimed that the incident had occurred on a different date and described it solely as a physical fight; she completely failed to mention any kind of sexual assault. Armed with this information as well as a number of inconsistencies between the complainant’s testimony at the preliminary hearing and at trial, Attorney Goldstein was able to successfully convince the judge that the Commonwealth’s evidence, which consisted only of the complainant’s testimony, was not enough to convict the defendant of any sex crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge found R.M. Not Guilty of all the sex crimes and released him from custody.

Our Sex Offense Lawyers Can Help

If you are facing rape charges or any other charges for a sex offense, you should speak with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers immediately. Given the serious consequences of a rape or sexual assault conviction, it is important that you move quickly and retain a defense lawyer who can begin investigating the case before evidence may be lost. We offer a free 15 minute criminal defense strategy session to each potential client. Call 267-225-2545 to begin building your defense to sex offense charges. 

Related Sex Crimes Articles

Should I talk to the Police?

Megan's Law Update

Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse

Appealing Megan's Law Retroactivity Provisions



CONTACT A MEGAN'S LAW DEFENSE LAWYER TODAY

Name *
Name
Phone
Phone

What is the Definition of Rape in Pennsylvania?

§ 3121.  Rape.

(a)  Offense defined.--A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1)  By forcible compulsion.

(2)  By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution.

(3)  Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring.

(4)  Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.

(5)  Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.

(6)  (Deleted by amendment).

(b)  Additional penalties.--In addition to the penalty provided for by subsection (a), a person may be sentenced to an additional term not to exceed ten years' confinement and an additional amount not to exceed $100,000 where the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant and has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, any substance for the purpose of preventing resistance through the inducement of euphoria, memory loss and any other effect of this substance.

(c)  Rape of a child.--A person commits the offense of rape of a child, a felony of the first degree, when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant who is less than 13 years of age.

(d)  Rape of a child with serious bodily injury.--A person commits the offense of rape of a child resulting in serious bodily injury, a felony of the first degree, when the person violates this section and the complainant is under 13 years of age and suffers serious bodily injury in the course of the offense.

(e)  Sentences.--Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1103 (relating to sentence of imprisonment for felony), a person convicted of an offense under:

(1)  Subsection (c) shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years.

(2)  Subsection (d) shall be sentenced up to a maximum term of life imprisonment.