Forceable Rape in North Carolina


One of the most serious charges you can face in North Carolina is the charge of Forceable Rape. A conviction for one of these crimes can destroy your reputation, your employment, your ability to gain housing, and could end up with you having to spend the rest of your life in prison. Because these consequences are so devastating, it is important for you to speak to an experienced and knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. The criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith have decades of experience and have represented hundreds of people charged with sex crimes in North Carolina. Call Jetton and Meredith’s criminal defense team at 704.333.1114 today, to set up your free consultation.

The Crime of Forceable Rape

The crime of forceable rape is broken down into two levels; first-degree, and second-degree. While these two levels are similar in nature and connected, there is a very different and exclusive set of elements for each charge.

  1. First-Degree Forceable Rape N.C.G.S 14-27.21

First-degree forceable rape is one of the most serious criminal charges in the North Carolina justice system. When most people hear the term forceable rape or sexual assault, this is the crime they are thinking of. You can be charged with first-degree forceable rape, if you do the following:

  1. Have vaginal intercourse with another person
  2. By force, and
  3. Against that person’s will, and
  4. You either
    1. Use or display a deadly weapon,
    2. Inflict serious personal injury on the victim,
    3. Inflict serious personal injury on another person, or
    4. Are aided and abetted by one or more other persons.

It is important to know that in order to be convicted of this crime; the government must prove all of the elements above. It is not enough, to simply say that force was used or that the intercourse was against the other person’s will. The government must prove that you either used or displayed a deadly weapon, inflicted serious personal injury on the victim, inflicted serious personal injury on another person, or were aided and abetted by one or more other persons.

If you are convicted of first-degree forceable rape the court will sentence you at a class B1 felony level pursuant to North Carolina’s structured sentencing system found in Article 81B of Chapter 15A of the North Carolina General Statutes. Under the North Carolina structured sentencing system, a conviction for first-degree forceable rape carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 144 months in prison and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison.

  1. Second-Degree Forceable Rape N.C.G.S. 14-27.22

Much like the over-arching charge of forceable rape, second-degree forceable rape can be broken down into two categories. The first is similar to first-degree forceable rape, it just does not include the use of a deadly weapon, personal injury to the victim or another person, or the aiding and abetting by one or more other individual. This means that if you have vaginal intercourse with another person by force and against their will, you can be charged with second-degree forceable rape.

The second category of second-degree forceable rape is distinct from the other kinds of forceable rape. If you have vaginal intercourse with another person and that person is either mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and you know or reasonably should know of this condition, you can also be charged with second-degree forceable rape. This is the common situation where someone has intercourse with someone who extremely drunk and later says they didn’t consent to the sex.

When examining second-degree forceable rape it is important to know what the terms mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, and physically helpless mean. And while this article will provide a brief overview and explanation of these terms it is always important to speak to an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney regarding any specific questions that you may have. Pursuant to N.C.G.S 14-27.20 these terms are defined as follows:

  • Mentally Disabled – means that the victim is mentally retarded or has a mental disorder, either of which condition leaves the victim incapable of appraising the conduct or resisting, or communicating an unwillingness to consent or submit. N.C.G.S. 14-27.20(2a).
  • Mentally Incapacitated – means that the victim who due to any act committed upon them or any poisonous or controlled substance provided to them without their knowledge or consent is rendered substantially incapable of either appraising the nature of his or her conduct, or resisting the intercourse or sexual act. N.C.G.S. 14-27.20(2).
  • Physically Helpless – means a victim who is either; unconscious, or physically unable to resist an act of vaginal intercourse or sexual act or to communicate an unwillingness to submit or a lack of consent. N.C.G.S. 14-27.20(3).

Finally, if you are convicted of second-degree forceable rape the court will punish you at a class C felony level. This means that the court must sentence you to prison for at least 44 months and can sentence you, depending on your prior record level, to up to 232 months in prison.


As previously discussed, forceable rape carriers very serious consequences. It is sentenced as either a class B1 or a class C felony. But it is important to know that prison time or an active sentence isn’t the only punishment that the court will hand down upon a conviction. Under both N.C.G.S 14-27.21 and N.C.G.S.14-27.22, the court is required to order that once you are convicted of either level of forceable rape, you register as a sex offender on the sex offender registry. Once you are on the registry you are required to register for at least 30 years.

The punishment for a conviction of forceable rape does not end once you are done in the courtroom. If you have been convicted of forceable rape you will not be eligible for an expungement for that conviction or any other charges, convictions, or dismissals. This means that your criminal record will always show the conviction along with any other criminal charges whether you are found guilty or not, and can always be used against you not only in future court proceedings but also outside of the courthouse.

One example of where your record and the conviction of forceable rape could be used against you outside of the courthouse, is in housing. Many, if not all, property management and leasing companies conduct a criminal background check prior to allowing you to rent housing from them, the fact that you have a conviction for a serious sex crime such as forceable rape on your record could be used to deny you housing. The potential denial from housing is only made worse by the fact that your housing options would be even more limited because of your status as a registered sex offender. Another serious consequence of a forceable rape conviction is to your employment, because the conviction will be on your criminal record you may find it difficult to find employment once you are released from prison. Finally, there will undoubtedly be severe damage to your reputation and you will be forced to carry the stigma of a sex offender.

Because these punishments both inside and outside of court are so severe, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced and knowledgeable attorney if you have been charged or are being investigated for forceable rape. The nature of these cases and the nature of the prosecution of these cases often leads to issues and questions that a skilled attorney can help you navigate and, in the end, potentially avoid such a devastating outcome. If you have been charged with forceable rape contact the criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith today to set up your free consultation.


If you have been accused of either first-degree or second-degree forceable rape, it is important that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The complexity and severity of forceable rape cases makes it event more important that you speak to an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can help you navigate this difficult process. The criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith is ready to help you today, call 704.333.1114 to schedule your free consultation.