Laws and Penalties Regarding Spousal Rape

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Many people do not realize that spousal rape is a crime, and more specifically it is a felony. A man can be convicted anywhere in the United States for sexually violating the woman that he is married to.

The legislation in some states outline sexual violations within marriage as individual offenses. This means that they are regarded differently than rapes that are perpetrated by strangers. Other states prohibit using marriage as a defense for rape, which means that all sexual violations are equal.

Special Requirements

It is recognized that the existence of these laws could be abused by women who are angry, who are seeking large divorce settlements, and who need ammunition for custody battles. In efforts to prevent false reporting, the law often imposes special requirements on spousal rape cases. For example, victims are sometimes given substantially shorter time frames to report these incidents. Laws also commonly refuse to recognize that individuals have been violated if it is not shown that deadly weapons were used or if the accuser did not suffer serious bodily harm.


The consequences of these sexual violations vary depending on state laws. In cases where the law recognizes rape as rape, despite the relationship of the perpetrator, anyone convicted can be subjected to the minimum and maximum penalties in that state.

When spousal rape is designated as a separate crime, it is often viewed as a lesser offense than rape by a stranger, and the state generally outlines potential sentences. However, these crimes are still felonies, so there is a possibility that all offenders will go to prison.

If a person is convicted of spousal rape, he may also be classified as a sex offender. This can result in his name being listed in a special registry and it can have a negative impact on various aspects of his life, such as employment and housing.

In Reality

It is rare to find maximum sentences imposed on perpetrators of spousal rape. Both prosecutors and judges realize the sensitivity and complexity of these cases. However, this does not mean that they do not aim to convict. Sexual crimes against women are often difficult to completely dismiss, even if the accused are spouses.

Get Justice

If you have been charged with spousal rape, do not take the issue lightly. Conviction can result in severe criminal penalties and social consequences. To ensure the best outcome, you should contact an attorney who has experience in sex offense cases.