Tennessee Rape Charges

Like most Tennessee sex offenses, rape charges carry a heavy burden on the offender throughout his or her life. There are two types of rape of adults under Tennessee law. However, there is also one other type of sex offense which is referred to as sexual battery. The differences between the two rape charges and the sexual battery charge are discussed below.

Under Tennessee law, rape occurs between two adults. When rape involves a minor-a person under the age of 18-it is referred to as statutory rape. You can find the article on that subject here.

Rape between two adults may either be considered rape or aggravated rape. The lesser offense of rape under T.C.A. § 39-13-503(a) (2016) is unlawful sexual penetration either by the victim or the offender that is accompanied by any of the following circumstances:

(1) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;

(2) The sexual penetration is accomplished without the consent of the victim and the defendant knows or has reason to know at the time of the penetration that the victim did not consent;

(3) The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or

(4) The sexual penetration is accomplished by fraud.

Rape is considered a Class B felony. The range of punishment for a Class B felony is between 8 to 30 years.

The higher offense of rape is referred to as aggravated rape under T.C.A. § 39-13-502. Similar to the lesser offense, aggravated rape is unlawful sexual penetration by either the victim or the offender, but is accompanied by any of the following:

(1) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act and the defendant is armed with a weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be a weapon;

(2) The defendant causes bodily injury to the victim;

(3) The defendant is aided or abetted by one or more other persons; and

A. Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act; or

B. The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

T.C.A. § 39-13-502(a) (2016).

Aggravated rape is considered a Class A felony. The range of punishment for a Class A felony is between 15 to 60 years.

In contrast with rape, sexual battery involves unlawful sexual contact generally, rather than unlawful sexual penetration. Under T.C.A. §39-13-505(a) (2016), the lesser offense of sexual battery is the unlawful sexual contact by either the victim or the defendant, that is accompanied by any of the following:

(1) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;

(2) The sexual contact is accomplished without the consent of the victim and the defendant knows or has reason to know at the time of the contact that the victim did not consent;

(3) The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or

(4) The sexual contact is accomplished by fraud.

Sexual battery is considered a Class E felony. The range of punishment for a Class E felony is between 1 to 6 years.

For more information on rape cases in Nashville, Tennessee, please call 615-686-2115 or contact us via email to schedule a confidential meeting to discuss your options and possible defenses.