Understanding Georgia Sexual Assault and Rape Laws

woman crying on stairs

woman crying on stairsGeorgia sexual assault and rape victims are forced to deal with tremendous emotional and physical effects. While we always hope that the perpetrators of these incidents are brought to justice, that is not always the case. When victims of rape and sexual assault do not receive justice through the criminal system, they may be able to do so through a civil lawsuit against the person who harmed them. We understand that holding perpetrators of rape and sexual assault accountable is incredibly difficult and that coming forward is hard to do.

The terms “rape” and “sexual assault” are often used interchangeably in criminal and civil court. In Georgia, the law has two statutes related to rape:

  • O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1 (Rape)
  • O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 (Statutory rape)

When we review Georgia’s rape law, we see that it is rather narrowly defined. In this state, rape occurs when a person “has carnal knowledge” of either:

  • A female forcibly and against her will
  • A female who is less than ten years of age

In these cases, carnal knowledge is defined as “penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.” The definition of rape In Georgia is clearly defined based on a male raping a female.

Statutory rape in Georgia is defined as “sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years and not his or her spouse.” Penalties for statutory rape depend on how old the perpetrator of the rape is. If the perpetrator is 18 years of age or younger, and no more than four years older than the victim, they are charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony (punishable by no more than one year in jail). If the perpetrator is 21 years of age or older, they could be put in prison for between 10 and 20 years. A list of Georgia sexual assault and rape laws can be found on the RAINN.org victims advocate website.

Other instances of sexual assault

As we mentioned above, the definition of “rape” under Georgia sexual assault and rape laws is generally defined as a man assaulting a woman (statutory rape can be either a man or woman perpetrating the assault).

Georgia sexual assault and rape laws are prosecuted differently among men and women. In Georgia, women cannot be charged with rape against a man in the traditional sense. Instead, if a woman sexually assaults a man, other charges will apply. One charge that could be applied in these cases includes:

  • O.C.G.A. § 16-6-22.1 (Sexual battery) – a person commits this offense when he or she intentionally makes physical contact with another person’s intimate body parts without that person’s consent. There are various other aspects of rape that are not addressed in Georgia sexual assault and rape laws. Specifically, what happened when a man rapes another man or a woman rapes another woman? In these cases, the sexual battery law mentioned above would likely apply. There is another charge that could be applicable in these cases:
  • O.C.G.A. § 16-6-22.2 (Aggravated sexual battery) – in instances where a person intentionally penetrates a sex organ or the anus of another person with a foreign object without that person’s consent.

No, these charges technically do not label an assault as rape, even if a reasonable person would define the actions as such. However, they do make these actions crimes, and the perpetrator should be charged accordingly.

What you can do moving forward

If you or a loved one have been a victim of a Georgia sexual assault or rape is vital to secure assistance from a qualified Atlanta sexual assault attorney as soon as possible. Generally, the earlier you secure assistance from an attorney, the more likely the evidence is to be preserved. Please keep in mind that there is generally a two-year statute of limitations in place for these cases. There are various factors that affect the time limits you have to file a case, so please let your attorney evaluate the case so you can move forward on securing justice and compensation for what happened to you.

Picture of Matt Kahn
Matt Kahn is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer and a partner at the law firm Butler Kahn. Matt has dedicated his career to fighting for individuals and families who had been harmed by the negligence of others. At Butler Kahn, he has had the honor of helping families who have lost children in motor vehicle accidents and people who were critically injured. He helped a family secure a $45 million settlement to provide lifetime care for their son, who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. Matt is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and has been recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star and by Best Lawyers as One to Watch. He has received an Avvo 10.0 Top Attorney rating. Connect with me on LinkedIn



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