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  6.  » Date Rape/Acquaintance Rape

Date Rape Charges Require A Serious And Skilled Legal Defense

“I thought it was consensual.” “We were drunk.” “She said yes.”

Many people who face sexual assault charges for date rape or acquaintance rape never meant to harm anyone. The feelings of betrayal and fear can be overwhelming, especially for college students and other young adults facing the criminal justice system for the first time.

Our law firm, Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., has an outstanding reputation for defending people facing difficult charges and even more difficult times. We know these are sensitive cases, and we will handle your defense with the discretion and compassion it deserves. For years, we have fought for the “underdog” – good people caught in bad situations.

I’m Accused Of Date Rape. What Charges Do I Face?

Date rape is one of the more confusing crimes. In Wisconsin, prosecutors typically charge date/acquaintance rape as a second- or third-degree sexual assault crime.

Second-degree sexual assault: You can be charged with this crime if you did not have consent and:

  • Had sex with someone who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was unable to understand his or her circumstances
  • Used a date rape drug
  • Threatened or used force or violence
  • Had sex with an unconscious person

Third-degree sexual assault: Sexual assault in the third degree is sexual intercourse without consent.

While your actions may not have seemed to be as bad as other serious crimes, you can face up to 40 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for date rape. Your actual sentence will depend on several factors, including the facts of your case, the judge, the jury and your defense lawyer’s ability.

Is There Any Evidence?

Unlike cases involving two strangers, alleged cases of date rape or acquaintance rape rarely involve denial that the sex took place. Both parties usually confirm that it happened. Instead, the issue is around consent.

Physical evidence is likely to be lacking, except in cases where the victim was given a date-rape drug or had defensive wounds (bruises, etc.) from trying to fight off their attacker. Instead, these cases often rely on the testimony of both parties involved and perhaps anyone else who happened to see them immediately before or after the alleged incident.

Possible Defense Strategies

The best (and sometimes only) defense strategy against allegations of date rape is to prove that the alleged victim gave consent, or at least that the circumstances were ambiguous enough to be unable to discern when or whether consent was granted and when or whether it was rescinded.

Again, this often comes down to “he said, she said” testimony, and the details may have been very blurry if you were both impaired by alcohol or drugs. But any details you can remember and corroborate are going to be very important to your defense. To that end, you need to be careful about early statements you give to the police. Your story may change as you recall more details, but prosecutors could try to use those inconsistencies against you. Please have a defense attorney by your side before answering questions.

Rules Against Attacking The Victim

A historically common defense tactic in alleged rape cases was to introduce evidence about the complainant’s sexual history – either with other people, with the defendant or both. However, this tactic is all but prohibited under Wisconsin’s rape shield law. The statute does not allow the introduction of evidence of a complainant’s sexual history because it will likely have a prejudicial effect on the jury.

There are instances in which you might be able to introduce evidence of your own sexual history with the complainant (if there is a history), but several strict criteria must be met. It is important to remember, however, that each sexual encounter must be consensual. Even if prior encounters were consensual, that alone is not proof of consent in the encounter that resulted in criminal charges.

Exceptional Trial Lawyers. Winning Results.

Our attorneys are respected throughout the Madison and Wisconsin legal communities for their trial know-how and passion. We know that date rape case results can be changed by just one person’s testimony. That is why we will work with a network of experienced investigators and experts to uncover facts, go through those facts with a fine-toothed comb, and present a compelling case to the prosecution, judge and jury.

But don’t take our word for it. Instead, read what our past clients have to say and then contact us for a free 30-minute initial consultation by calling 608-620-0018 or sending us an email.

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