Legal Definition of Rape
The carnal knowledge of a woman by a man (or vice versa) forcibly and unlawfully against her will.2 min read
The carnal knowledge of a woman by a man (or vice versa) forcibly and unlawfully against her will. In order to ascertain precisely the nature of this offence, this definition will be analysed. Much difficulty has arisen in defining the meaning of carnal knowledge, and different opinions have been entertained some judges having supposed that penetration alone is sufficient, while other's deemed emission as an essential ingredient in the crime. But in modern times the better opinion seems to be that both penetration and emission are necessary. It is, however, to be remarked, that very slight evidence may be sufficient to induce a jury to believe there was emission. In Scotland, emission is not requisite.
By the term man in this definition is meant a male of the human species, of the age of fourteen years and upwards; for an infant, under fourteen years, is supposed by law incapable of committing this offence. But not only can an infant under fourteen years, if of sufficient mischievous discretion, but even a woman may be guilty as principals in the second degree. And the husband of a woman may be a principal in the second degree of a rape committed upon his wife, as where he held her while his servant committed the rape. The knowledge of the woman's person must be forcibly and against her will; and if her consent has not been voluntarily and freely given, (when she has the power to consent,) the offence will be complete, nor will any subsequent acquiescence on her part do away the guilt of the ravisher. A consent obtained from a woman by actual violence, by duress or threats of murder, or by the administration of stupefying drugs, is not such a consent as will shield the offender, nor turn his crime into adultery or fornication.
The matrimonial consent of the wife cannot be retracted, and, therefore, her husband cannot be guilty of a rape on her as his act is not unlawful. But, as already observed, he may be guilty as principal in the second degree.
As a child under ten years of age is incapable in law to give her consent, it follows, that the offence may be committed on such a child whether she consent or not.
division of a country. In the English law, this is a district similar to that of a hundred; but oftentimes containing in it more hundreds than one.