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States vary as to how they categorize and grade sex offenses. In general, rape is knowing, forcible sexual intercourse without consent or with consent obtained involuntarily. Although the victim had to resist to indicate lack of consent at early common law, in modern times the victim need not resist if it would be futile to do so. Another modernization from common-law rape is the elimination of an exemption for spousal rape and the elimination of the requirement that victim testimony in a rape case be corroborated. Most states have rape shield laws that govern the admissibility of evidence of the victim’s past sexual conduct at a trial for rape. Sodomy and oral copulation are sometimes combined and included with rape in one statute called sexual assault. If sodomy and oral copulation are the subject of separate statutes, sodomy is typically knowing forcible penis to anus penetration, and oral copulation is typically knowing forcible mouth to sexual organ or anus penetration. Statutory rape is generally sexual intercourse with an underage victim either recklessly, negligently, or with strict liability depending on the jurisdiction, and incest is generally knowing sexual intercourse between family members who cannot marry. States vary as to how they grade sex offenses, with force and penetration enhancing the grading to a felony in most jurisdictions.
Assault and battery are often included in the same statute (called assault) but are actually separate offenses with distinct elements. Battery is generally a purposeful, knowing, reckless, or negligent (depending on the jurisdiction) unlawful harmful or offensive touching without victim consent. Assault can be attempted battery, in which case all the elements of battery except the physical contact are present, or threatened battery, which is a purposeful act that causes apprehension of harmful or offensive physical contact in the victim. Simple battery and simple assault are typically misdemeanors, while aggravated versions of these offenses are often felonies. Factors that can aggravate the grading of assault and battery are the use of a weapon or serious injury.
Domestic violence statutes criminalize conduct such as assault, battery, sex offenses, or criminal homicide between family members and have special provisions that pertain to interfamily violence. Stalking criminalizes a purposeful course of conduct that poses a credible threat to the victim’s safety. Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or e-mail to commit stalking. Simple stalking is generally a misdemeanor, while aggravated stalking, which is stalking that causes injury or violates a restraining order, is generally a felony.
Kidnapping is the purposeful confinement and asportation (movement) of a victim for the purpose of injuring or harming the victim or another, hiding the victim in secret, obtaining a ransom, committing a separate offense, subjecting the victim to involuntary servitude, or interfering with the purpose of government or political function. False imprisonment is a lesser included offense of kidnapping that does not include asportation or specific intent. Interference with custody is parental kidnapping or violation of a child custody or visitation agreement. While kidnapping is typically a felony, false imprisonment and interference with custody are generally graded lower, as either a gross misdemeanor or low-level felony.
You are a newly hired law enforcement officer starting out in the file room. You have been given five case files. To properly file them, first read over the facts of each case, determine which crime has been committed, and determine whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. Check your answers using the answer key at the end of the chapter.