Fierce Advocacy for Criminal Charges

Sexual Assault & Rape Attorney in Springfield, Massachusetts

Statistics compiled by the organization Forge, which provides training and resources to prevent sexual assault, show that nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in Massachusetts have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lives. Nearly 80% of the female victims experienced their first rape before the age of 25, at least 40% of the victims before the age of 18.

If you’ve been accused of — or charged with — a sex-related crime in the Springfield area, or anywhere throughout Western and Central Massachusetts, contact me at the Law Office of Joseph M. Pacella.

I am a former prosecutor who understands the laws of Massachusetts from both perspectives — prosecution and defense — and I can bring my knowledge and experience to your case to work for the best available outcome.

Sexual Assault Under Massachusetts Law

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes two types of sexual assault offenses — rape and indecent assault & battery. Indecent assault & battery is defined as touching a victim in an unwanted and offensive manner, generally involving the breast, buttocks, thighs, or genitalia. Rape is defined as the penetration of any bodily orifice by any part of the body, or with an object, against the victim’s will, along with the threat or actual use of force.

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Indecent Sexual Assault & Battery Penalties

Indecent assault & battery can be charged as aggravated sexual assault if any harm comes to the victim. If the victim needs any kind of medical attention following the assault, the crime can rise to aggravated sexual assault with tougher penalties. Both indecent assault & battery and aggravated sexual assault involve prison sentences and can land the offender on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board.

Possible penalties include:

  • Indecent Assault & Battery on a Person Over 14: Up to five years in state prison or two-and-a-half years in a house of corrections.

  • Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14: A child under 14 cannot consent to indecent touching. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison or two-and-a-half years in a house of corrections.

  • Indecent Assault & Battery on a Person with an Intellectual Disability: 5-10 years in state prison.

  • Indecent Assault & Battery on an Elderly or Disabled Person: Maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or two-and-a-half years in a house of corrections.

  • Aggravated Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14: Ten years to life in prison.

Penalties for Rape

Rape, as the statistics in the opening paragraph indicate, doesn’t always happen with strangers assaulting someone in a dark alley or after breaking and entering someone’s residence. Most rapes occur between people who know each other. The two can be dating or even married, and rape can still occur. A charge of rape requires that three elements be proved:

  • Any bodily orifice has been penetrated by a bodily part or by an object

  • The act was done against the victim’s will or without consent

  • Force or the threat of force was applied

Massachusetts law also recognizes rape as occurring when the victim is unable to give consent because they are unconscious, intoxicated, or mentally impaired. Though Massachusetts sets the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 16 years, the law never defines “consent.” This statutory silence might sometimes result in heated interchanges about the meaning of consent during a trial.

The penalty for rape is up to 20 years in state prison, along with fines, probation, GPS monitoring, and being listed as a sex offender on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board.

Statutory Rape in Massachusetts

Statutory rape is sex with anyone under the age of consent, which is 16 years in Massachusetts. The element of force need not be present. Even if both partners are 15 and consent to the sexual act, it can still be charged as statutory rape.

Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not have what is called a “Romeo and Juliet Law,” which allows exceptions for underage sex provided the partners are close in age. The penalties for statutory rape vary, depending on the ages of those involved and other circumstances, but can result in prison time.

The Importance of a Skilled Attorney

Facing a sexual assault charge is a serious matter. The prosecution is going to bring the full weight of the law against you. Relying on an overworked public defender is not your best choice. Many public defenders, though well-intentioned, have a large caseload and cannot devote the necessary time and resources to your defense. They will often opt for a plea bargain, but in the end, you’ll still have a conviction on your record.

Having been a prosecutor myself, I know the tactics that will be used against you. I can investigate your situation and develop a solid strategy aimed at achieving the best available outcome. I will fight for your rights at every turn.

Sexual Assault & Rape Attorney
Serving Springfield, Massachusetts

The consequences of serious criminal charges can have a permanent impact on your life. You can rely on me for dedicated legal representation. If you’re facing sexual assault or rape charges in or around the Springfield area, or anywhere in Northern or Western Massachusetts, including Northampton, Westfield, Amherst, and Palmer, contact me at the Law Office of Joseph M. Pacella.