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Law Reform Efforts: Rape and sexual assault in United States of America

A Brief Overview of Law Reforms for Rape and Sexual Assault 

The feminist movement in the United States has brought about significant reforms to the manner in which rape is defined and prosecuted in the United States. States vary upon the specifics of each law (aside from federal laws like Title IX and the VAWA), but there are more details concerning Nevada’s laws specifically here.

In this article, we’ll examine developments of anti-rape law reforms from the 1970s to the present day, as well as give your more information about contacting a criminal defense attorney should you need one to help you avoid trial or reduce the consequences of a sexual assault trial.

Rape Shield Laws

Beginning in 1974 with Michigan, rape shield laws were passed to limit the admissibility of a rape survivor’s sexual history during the accused rapist’s court trial. By limiting the admissibility of rape survivors’ sexual history, rape shield laws are intended to reduce or eliminate bias against the rape survivor for being sexually active.

By 1994 every state had passed its own rape shield law. A rape shield law also exists under federal law: Federal Rule of Evidence 412.

Marital Rape

The movement to redefine rape to include spousal rape began in the 1970s, with Nebraska as the first state to criminalize marital rape in 1976, and by July of 1993 spousal rape had become a crime in all fifty states.

Though marital rape is illegal in every state, many states treat it differently, or less severely, than other forms of rape, and the laws surrounding its exact punishments will also differ depending upon the state.

Title IX

Title IX is a federal law that protects students from gender discrimination in a school’s academic, educational, extracurricular, athletics and other programs.

Under Title IX, schools are required to address sexual harassment (including rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery) and, once aware of sexual harassment, must take “immediate and appropriate steps to investigate… what occurred and take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment, eliminate a hostile environment if one has been created, and prevent harassment from occurring again.”

VAWA

The United States federal government enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. The law is intended to improve investigation and prosecution of rape, domestic violence, and other violent crimes against women, as well as provide funding for victims and victim’s advocates.

The law, as it passed, included a provision that allowed victims of gender-based violence to sue their attackers in civil court, even when no criminal charges were filed   The Supreme Court ruled that provision of the Violence Against Women Act unconstitutional in 2000, but invalidated only the civil remedy portion of the bill. In 2012, the bill was reauthorized with the introduction of LGBT-protections after a long and arduous battle in the Senate.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Las Vegas

Rape in the state of Nevada carries the highest felony classification and can be punishable by up to life imprisonment with parole after 35 years, depending upon the age of the victim. You will also be obligated to register as a sex offender, which will have life-changing consequences. And depending upon your criminal history, enhanced punishment may follow if this is not your first charge, with longer prison sentences and less likelihood of parole.

Claims of rape and sexual assault are very serious charges, and should be treated as such. If you have been accused of rape or sexual assault, you need aggressive legal representative with the experience necessary to handle such a serious accusation as well as to protect your rights.

Do not hesitate, as the consequences of these accusations should be taken into the utmost consideration. Protect your future and your reputation with by calling an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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