North Carolina Consent Law in Sexual Assault


According to North Carolina Governor Cooper’s office, 35 percent of all women become victims of some type of violence from their partners during their lifetime. This includes intimate partner sexual violence that can lead to such consequences as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the victims. Prior to November of 2019, a loophole in North Carolina’s sexual assault law made it possible for individuals to avoid conviction of a sex crime when forcing an intimate partner to continue in the sex act after that partner revoked his or her consent.

According to the Governor, North Carolina’s laws did not protect sexual abuse victims in this matter like all other states did. North Carolina was the only state in the union that did not consider forcing the sex act after revocation of consent a crime. That loophole was closed with the passage of a bill in the state last November that went into effect on December 1, 2019.

Consent can be revoked by a partner to the sexual act and, should that consent be overruled by the other participant, it can lead to charges of rape or sexual assault. Under North Carolina law, these crimes occur when someone engages in sex with another against the will of the other person and through force. It also can occur when the other person is mentally or physically incapacitated so as not to be able to fully understand the situation or have the physical ability to resist. This is considered second-degree rape in the state. First-degree rape occurs when a deadly weapon is also used, when the victim suffers serious injury, or when the act is aided by others.

Statutory rape is also charged as first-degree rape. This occurs when the victim is under the age of 13 and the accused is aged 12 or older or is a minimum of four years older than the victim.

Penalties for Rape

First-degree rape is a Class B1 felony punishable by 144 months up to life in prison. Second-degree rape is a Class C felony punishable by 44 up to 182 months in prison. North Carolina also requires those convicted of sexual assault or rape to register as sex offenders. This registry identifies you and information about you to the public. It restricts where you can live and requires you to report to law enforcement should you relocate.

Facing an Accusation of a Sex Crime or Domestic Violence?

Being accused of any type of sex crime is a serious matter that calls for an aggressive defense from an experienced attorney. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, we are committed to protecting your legal rights and fighting hard for your best interests at every stage of the legal process.

Need legal help? Contact us at (704) 931-5535 for a free, initial consultation today.