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Rape is a crime at common law defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with someone without their consent and by means of fear, force, or coercion. While statutes outlining the definition of the act vary across jurisdictions, most criminalize the non-consensual penetration of bodily orifices by force, threats, or by taking advantage of an incapacitated victim. Rape is typically criminalized at the state level and is left to the states to enforce.

Some conditions render a person unable to provide consent. One such condition is being under the age of consent. When an individual engages in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent, even if agreed upon by both parties, the individual can still be charged with statutory rape.

In New York State, Penal Law § 130.35 Rape in the first degree is defined as “sexual intercourse with another person:

  1. By forcible compulsion; or
  2. Who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless; or
  3. Who is less than eleven years old; or
  4. Who is less than thirteen years old and the actor is eighteen years old or more.

Rape in the first degree is a class B felony.” 

[Last updated in August of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]