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rape

Sexual intercourse with a woman without her *consent, as a result of physical force or threats, or because she was unconscious or asleep, or because consent as to the nature of the act was obtained through fraud. It is also rape if the woman is mentally incapable of understanding what she is consenting to. The defendant must be proved to have known that the woman did not consent or have been reckless as to whether or not she consented. Indifference by the defendant to the question of her consent would constitute recklessness. If, however, there is reasonable doubt as to whether he honestly believed that the woman was consenting he will be entitled to be acquitted, even if his belief was unreasonable. The maximum penalty for rape or attempted rape is life imprisonment, but this is rarely imposed.

In England and Wales (unlike Scotland) a husband cannot be guilty of raping his wife unless she has obtained a decree of judicial separation or injunction against molestation, but he can be guilty of inciting or aiding and abetting others to rape her. A boy under the age of 14 is not guilty of rape even if he had intercourse with the woman, since he is deemed to be incapable of intercourse. A 'rape' by a husband or a boy, however, and an unsuccessful rape, can be treated as an *indecent assault or an assault occasioning bodily harm or causing grievous bodily harm, depending on the circumstances. See also *procurement.

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