Rape Law and the Judicial Process

  • Alice E. Richmond


When we hear that someone has been raped, the commonsense understanding of that expression is that a person, usually a woman, has been forced to have intercourse. But what is the legal definition of rape? Are there different degrees of rape? What about sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus? If a woman is forced to commit these acts, is that “rape” as well? What is indecent assault and battery? Does the age of the victim or the rapist make any difference? At law, can males be raped as well? In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to explain briefly the evolutionary process of Anglo-American law.


Police Officer Sexual Offense Juvenile Offender Criminal Process Rape Victim 
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  1. 1.
    Malumperse is also known as malumense. For a more detailed definition of these phrases, see H. C. Black, Black’s Law Dictionary (rev. 4th ed.) (St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing, 1968), pp. 445–446, 1112.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., pp. 345–346.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid., p. 1427.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Commonwealth v. Piccerillo, 256 Mass. 487,489 (1926); Commonwealth v. Squires, 97 Mass. 59, 61(1867).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    B. Manning, The Criminal Offenses (South Berlin, Mass.: Research Publishing Company, Inc., 1974),Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    B. Manning, quoting Commonwealth v. Goldenberg, 338 Mass. 377, cert. den. 359, U.S. 1001 (1959), pp. 92, 104.Google Scholar
  7. 65.
    Ibid. Quoting Commonwealth v. Gardner, 350 Mass. 664 (1966), pp. 93, 104; Commonwealth v. Murphy, 165 Mass. 66, 69 (1895).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Jaquithv. Commonwealth, 331 Mass. 439, 443 (1954).Google Scholar
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    Black, op cit., p. 147.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 193.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    For an example, see MGLA, Chapter 265, Sections 13B, 13F.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    For an example, see MGLA, Chapter 265, Section 22ff.Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Commonwealth v. Gallant, 1977 Mass. Adv. Sh. 2254, 2263 (1977).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    Chapter 185, Laws of 1975 (State of Wisconsin, Senate Bill 233).Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    See An Act to Amend Chapter 71 of Title 13 (Vermont, 1977); H.R. 4300 (U.S. Congress, 95th Session, 1977).Google Scholar
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    Black, op. cit., p. 1365.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 912.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 918–919.Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    Since “hearsay” testimony is permitted in a grand jury proceeding (see Costello v. United States, 350 U.S. 359, 76 S. Ct. 406 (1956), the decision as to whether or not any particular witness will be called to testify before the grand jury is, in the absence of a state statute, a matter of prosecutorial discretion.Google Scholar
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    Black, op. cit., pp. 1726–1727.Google Scholar
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    For an example, see MGLA, Chapter 276, Section 58. 24 Black, op. cit., p. 177.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice E. Richmond
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Suffolk DistrictUK
  2. 2.New England School of LawBostonUSA

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