Recently, a 46-year-old Uber driver was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in Boston. Uber customers use an app to arrange and pay for rides with drivers who are nearby. The driver pled not guilty to all charges, which included rape and kidnapping. The incident allegedly occurred on December 6, when the woman called an Uber car to take her home after a night spent with friends.
Once the woman was in the car, the driver allegedly said she would need to pay with cash and drove her to an ATM. Once she returned to the car, he drove to a secluded area, jumped into the back seat, and allegedly struck, strangled, and sexually assaulted her. Boston police have stated that they are investigating three other indecent assault allegations related to women using ride-for-hire services.
Rape is a felony charge described in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 22(b). It is taken very seriously in Massachusetts. To secure a conviction in a rape case, the Commonwealth will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with the alleged victim and that the defendant used force or otherwise compelled the victim to submit against his or her will. “Sexual intercourse” means that there was penetration, but it doesn’t have to be significant. Even finger penetration or the use of a foreign object can satisfy this requirement. “Force” is usually defined as a threat of bodily injury, but it doesn’t always mean physical force. Sexual assault, in contrast to rape, is more broadly defined as any sexual activity that is coerced, forced, or unwanted.
The issue of consent often arises in rape cases. The jury will look at the defendant’s actions objectively to see whether the defendant had a good faith belief that the victim was consenting and whether it was reasonable for the defendant to have this view. Whether the defendant and alleged victim had a relationship does not preclude a charge or conviction of rape.
If you are accused of rape in Massachusetts, you should be aware that even a first conviction on a rape charge might be punished by up to 20 years in state prison. A second conviction can involve up to life in prison. There is a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years for a first conviction if a defendant used a firearm or gun. For a second conviction involving a firearm or gun, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. Mandatory minimum sentences are those sentences over which a judge has no discretion and must sentence a convicted defendant to at least a set amount of time in prison.
Nobody who serves a second or subsequent sentence for rape is eligible for furlough or temporary release or training or employment programs that are outside the correctional facility until he or she has served two-thirds of the mandatory minimum sentence. If there are two or more mandatory minimum sentences to be served that are not concurrent, the person must serve two-thirds of the aggregate of the minimum terms of those sentences.
If the Commonwealth can prove not only sexual intercourse and force, but also that the rape resulted in or was committed with acts resulting in serious bodily injury, or that it was committed by a joint enterprise or in conjunction with certain specified other crimes, the judge can sentence the defendant to life in prison.
If you are accused of or arrested for a sex crime in Massachusetts, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss the criminal charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or contact us through this website.
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