How New York’s Revised Law Will Change Rape Prosecutions

New York’s adoption of the “Rape Is Rape Act” marks a significant shift in the prosecution of sexual offenses in New York State. This law, set to take effect on September 1, 2024, broadens the definition of rape to include any form of vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact, whereas the current law limits rape to vaginal penetration by the penis. This significant change will make prosecutions more frequent and convictions more likely, which in turn means that people accused of the crime will need a stronger and more effective defense.

Historically, the narrow definition of rape within New York State’s Penal Code has been a significant hurdle for prosecutors, often leading to the filing of lesser charges even in cases where the conduct involved was as violent or coercive as rape. The requirement of proving penetration made it difficult to prosecute many cases that involved significant sexual intrusion but did not fit the specific criteria. This limitation has not only affected the severity of potential penalties but also has impacted the survivors’ perception of justice being served. 

The “Rape Is Rape Act,” by including a broader spectrum of sexual acts as rape, reflects a societal shift towards harsher penalties for sexually related violence. It will likely increase significantly the number of cases that will be prosecuted under the rape statute, which carries greater punishment than other types of nonconsensual sexual contact.

The change will have major implications for defense strategy. First, the broader definition will require a greater reliance on forensic evidence beyond the traditional DNA samples associated with penetration. The defense must now be prepared to challenge the nature of any sexual contact and the interpretation of actions that could fall under the expanded definition.

The new law will have a pronounced effect on demonstrating consent in these cases. Given the expanded definition, the nuances of how consent is given, refused or retracted in the context of different forms of sexual contact become more relevant. Developing a consent defense will necessitate a deeper investigation into the communications and relationship dynamics between the parties.

As attorneys experienced in defense of sexual offense cases, we know that adapting to this expanded law means adopting a more comprehensive and sensitive approach to defending these cases. It will require balancing the rights of the accused with being mindful of the societal shift in attitudes toward protecting people against sexual violence.

If you have been charged with a sex crime in New York State, the Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. in Rochester can provide a carefully planned and well-presented defense. To arrange for a free initial consultation, call us at 585-563-1134 or contact us online.


Contact Form

We will respond to your inquiry in a timely fashion. Thank you.

Quick Contact Form