Rape is considered one of the most serious sexual offences in Ireland, and it is defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse with another person. Rape may be charged under the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981 or the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990, depending on the circumstances of the case, age of the victim, and evidence available.
Allegations of rape carry immense gravity and can cause profound distress. Therefore, if you find yourself arrested or charged with a rape offence, it is crucial to find a solicitor that is experienced, practical, and empathetic.
What is Rape?
Under the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981, the definition of rape involves non-consensual vaginal, anal or oral penetration with the penis. The law defines consent as the “freely given agreement” of a person to engage in sexual activity. Consent cannot be given if a person is unconscious, intoxicated, or otherwise incapable of giving it. The law also recognises that a person may withdraw their consent at any time during sexual activity.
The Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990 expands the definition of rape to include non-consensual penetration with any part of the body (such as fingers), as well as penetration with objects or substances. This act also recognises that men can be victims of rape.
Attempted rape is also a criminal offence under Irish law. Attempted rape involves the intent to carry out the act of rape, even if the attempt is not completed. The punishment for attempted rape is similar to that of rape itself, and it can also result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
In addition, aiding and abetting a rape is also a criminal offence under Irish law. This offence involves assisting another person to carry out the act of rape, such as by holding down the victim or encouraging the perpetrator to commit the crime. Aiding and abetting a rape can result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Rape is a serious criminal offence in Ireland that can result in life imprisonment for the perpetrator. Attempted rape and aiding and abetting a rape are also criminal offences under Irish law, and they carry similar maximum sentences. All rape cases in Ireland are heard in the Central Criminal Court.
What is Consent?
Consent is an agreement between people to engage in sexual activity. It means that a person agrees to engage in sexual activity with another person. For consent to be given, the person must be capable of giving consent, they must not be coerced or threatened, and they must have freely given their agreement. In Irish law, a person under the age of 17 is deemed to be incapable of giving consent to sexual activity. A person consents to a sex if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act.
A person cannot consent to a sexual act if she:
- is unconscious or asleep.
- incapable of consenting due to the effects of alcohol or drugs.
- has a physical disability that prevents her from communicating whether he or she agrees to the act.
- is misinformed as to the identity of any other person involved in the act.
- or is forced, threatened with force, or genuinely afraid of force being used against them or against another person.
What defences are there to a Rape accusation?
Rape cases can be defended. Your defence will depend on the circumstances of the case.
Firstly, if no sex actually took place, we will build a defence to your case on that basis. For example, we may be able to show that you were not with the alleged victim at the time. We can do this by using witnesses who can say where you were at the time, CCTV, mobile phone tracking etc.
Secondly, if sex did take place, we can look to defend the case in a different way. In cases like this the prosecution must prove the following three things:
- That sexual intercourse took place
- That the alleged victim did not give consent
- That the alleged offender did not reasonably believe the other party consented.
In cases where sexual activity did take place, we will usually try to defend the case by showing that:
- The alleged victim did give consent
- The alleged offender believed that the alleged victim was consenting
In order to properly advance these defences, we regularly rely on witness testimony, text messages, WhatsApp messages etc.
This is just a brief overview of the potential defences that can be relied upon by someone accused of rape. Our team has years of experience in defending these types of cases and we can advise you on the possible defences open to you.
What is the sentence for Rape?
If you are convicted of rape, or if you plead guilty, the next issue that arises is the sentence. We work with leading psychiatrists, addiction services and experienced barristers to ensure that if you are facing a sentencing hearing, you will receive the lowest possible sentence.
In Ireland, sentencing for rape can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the case. Sentences for rape are usually higher than for other sexual offences such as sexual assault. The maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment. The court will consider several factors when determining the appropriate sentence, including the level of violence used, the degree of harm caused to the victim, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances present. Aggravating factors can lead to a longer sentence, whilst mitigating factors can reduce the sentence. Examples of these are set out below.
Generally speaking, a rape which is carried out without violence or threats being used, attracts a sentence of 7 years. This 7 year figure is before ‘aggravating and mitigating factors’ are taken into consideration.
A rape which is carried out by using a greater amount of violence or intimidation than is normally associated with a rape offence; or involves a greater level of degradation of the victim; or involves an abuse of trust, attracts a sentence of 10 to 15 years. Again, ‘aggravating and mitigating factors’ may affect these figures.
A term of life imprisonment can apply if a rape is carried out with serious violence; or if the victim is subjected to greater humiliation than is normally associated with a rape offence; or if the victim is subjected to sexual perversion.
Mitigating factors in a rape can lead to shorter sentences, these include:
- a guilty plea;
- an apology;
- mental health issues;
- having no previous convictions;
- addiction issues.
Aggravating factors in a rape can lead to longer sentences, these include:
- abuse of trust by the person who committed the rape;
- abuse of a position of authority or a position of dominance in a family;
- planning the offence;
- the involvement of more than one offender;
- tricking a victim into a position of vulnerability;
- taking advantage of a difference in age.
When do I need to speak to a Solicitor?
The short answer: Now!
The long answer: It is never too early to contact us. A rape conviction is very serious. Most people who are convicted will receive a prison sentence. The reputational damage is huge, and most people convicted of rape will lose their jobs and have difficulty securing work in the future. A conviction for rape will also have a profound effect on your loved ones.
Given the seriousness of a rape allegation, it is absolutely vital that you receive specialist advice by speaking with an experienced rape defence solicitor as early as possible. An experienced sexual offences solicitor will make sure that all relevant evidence is preserved, that your case is prepared diligently and that no defence is overlooked.
What we can do for you?
If you have been arrested or charged with rape, you can Daniel Kreith 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate expert advice and representation. We will immediately take steps to:
- Build your defence as early as possible to make sure all relevant evidence is gathered
- Attend Garda Station interviews with you
- Help you prepare a statement
- Take statements from all relevant witnesses
- Secure reports from relevant experts
- Provide you with support and advice
- Secure legal aid for you
- Secure bail for you
- Secure two barristers to advise on your case and run your defence
- Damage limitation even if you admit the allegation
- Attempt to have the Gardaí drop the case
- Attempt to have the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) drop the case
What to do if you are accused of Rape?
If you have been accused of rape, knowing your rights is crucial. We regularly come across situations where the accused person has not contacted a specialist sexual offences solicitor in the early stages of their case. Often, these people will have unintentionally said something that damages their case. You should never speak to Gardaí about a rape allegation until you have first spoken with a Solicitor experienced in dealing with rape cases. You should always obtain legal advice.
Always remember that:
- You do not have to answer any questions asked by the Gardaí
- You should never answer any questions without a solicitor present
- You can choose your own criminal defence solicitor
- Following the interview, you may need to have a solicitor apply for legal aid and bail on your behalf
Why Daniel Kreith And Company Solicitors?
We have represented and advised clients all over Ireland in relation to rape allegations. If rape allegations have been made against you, or you know that you are being falsely accused, we are ready to help you 24/7, 365 days a year.
Even if you already have another solicitor, and wish to change, we can help.
We specialise in representing people accused of sexual offences and we regularly act in high profile cases. We always instruct at least two experienced barristers on every case. That means you will have three lawyers working at all times, from the start of your case, with your best interests at heart.
We know how difficult rape accusations can be and we know how to to deal with matters in a sensitive but efficient way to limit any damage to your reputation, your job and your family.
Where our clients are not fluent in English, we use trained interpreters. We also know which experts to bring in to your case to provide help with forensics, DNA, digital evidence, mobile phone, app data, etc.
We always offer same day appointments either in person or over the phone. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of confidentiality and we are always open and honest with our clients.
The sad reality is that society tends to reverse the presumption of innocence until proven guilty when it comes to rape offences.
During Garda interviews, our primary objective is to ensure that the investigators do not elicit information from you that might be harmful to your defence. Our sole focus is to prevent you from being charged, but if you are, we are ready to fight the case.
Over the years, we have dealt with numerous false allegation cases. We meticulously examine the evidence in every case. We will always assemble a team of experienced barristers to safeguard your interests from the early stages of your case.
Contact our Rape Defence Solicitors Today
For urgent specialist advice, attendance at a Garda station interview, or to speak to us confidentially about allegations of rape of any other type of sexual offence, please contact Solicitor Daniel Kreith on 086 0762191.