In recent years, there have been many changes to the law of rape that are relevant to rape defence specifically. The most recent amendment to the Crimes Act came into effect on the 1st of July in 2015.
What is rape?
In Victoria, a person commits rape if he or she intentionally sexually penetrates another person without that person’s consent or does not reasonably believe that the other person is consenting.
There may be evidence of penetration via DNA evidence. Alternatively, in some cases, admission may be made in a police interview.
What amendment was made to the law?
Before the latest amendment, the prosecution had to prove that the accused intentionally penetrated the complainant while being aware that the complainant was not or might not be consenting.
In 2008, the law was amended. Since then, it provides an alternative – that the accused had given no thought to whether or not the complainant was consenting. This now applies to all offences of rape.
The amendment of 1 July 2015 now means that for all rape offences:
- Rape is the intentional sexual penetration of another person where there is no consent to the penetration, and the accused person does not reasonably believe that the complainant consents to the penetration.
- The prosecution must prove that the accused did not reasonably believe the complainant was consenting.
As the circumstances of each case will be different, there will be specific issues you won’t be aware of, but a lawyer will be able to help you with this information. For example, something such as “reasonable belief” is determined by an objective standard. It isn’t simply whether the accused person thinks their own belief is reasonable.
It is extremely important to seek early legal advice prior to a police interview, as what you say during this process can be used against you.
It is also important to establish what law applies to historical allegations of sexual assault or rape. An allegation of rape is an extremely serious matter and should not be taken lightly. If you find yourself in the situation where someone is accusing you of rape, you must seek legal advice immediately.
Rape Lawyers Melbourne – Slades & Parsons
At Slades and Parsons, we are experienced rape defence lawyers and represent clients in Victoria, County, Supreme and Magistrates Courts.
If police are going to interview you, charge you with rape, or if you have been accused, a solicitor from Slades and Parsons will support you throughout the legal process and ensure that your rights are upheld.
If you are wanting to obtain legal advice, we are available for both phone and face-to-face contact for urgent advice. Contact us today.