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Violent Crime: Crime Against a Person

Forcible Rape

The UCR defines forcible rape as "the carnal (bodily) knowledge of a female forcibly against her will. Assaults or attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) . . . are excluded." Carnal knowledge means having sexual relations or intercourse with the female.

Statutory rape, mentioned in the UCR definition as rape without force and not included in UCR statistics, involves an adult and teenager under the age of consent. Each state defines the exact ages and age difference of the partners. Statutory rape occurs when sexual relations are not forced on the teenager, because the individual has apparently agreed to the act. It is a crime, however, because many teenagers are considered too young to make such a decision or to give their consent. Statutory rape cases are very difficult to prosecute since juries do not like to convict if the two individuals seemed to agree to have sex—even if the victim was quite young or there was a large age difference between the victim and adult sexual partner.

Rapes involve the offender's need to feel sexual power and power over the victim. Anger and aggression can also be part of the crime. Some rapes are committed with sudden attacks in public areas such as parks or streets. These generally occur in hidden areas like alleys under the cover of night. Other rapes occur after the offender has befriended the victim with either conversation or by offering a ride in a car. Some offenders are serial rapists, committing the crime again and again with different victims. Rapes occur at a higher rate in summer months, peaking in July since people are out more and later at night making them vulnerable as victims. Besides forcible rape where the offender is completely unknown to the victim, other forcible rapes are called "acquaintance rape," which includes date rape, marital rape (between two people who are legally married to each other), and gang rape (forced sexual relations with more than one person).


Stalking is a behavior defined as repeated, unwanted physical closeness or communication from a person that leaves the victim feeling threatened. Often the stalker or offender makes verbal or written threats to the victim.

Media personalities such as singer Madonna (1958–), director Steven Spielberg (1946–), and actress Gwyneth Paltrow (1972–) are well-known victims of stalking, but most victims are not celebrities and are acquainted with their stalkers. The majority of stalkers are men, but some women stalk as well. Women victims are often stalked by former boyfriends or spouses. Stalkers generally become obsessed with their victims, seeking power over them and their lives through frightening incidents and many stalkers believe they have a relationship with their victims (though it is usually imaginary). Stalkers are sometimes motivated by revenge or by rejection. The Internet has made it very easy for stalkers to get information about victims, so they can send threatening emails as well.

By the 1990s states began to realize stalkers were dangerous criminals who often end up doing harm to or even killing their victims. California law classifies stalking as a felony (serious crime) with punishment of up to five years in prison.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawViolent Crime: Crime Against a Person - Crimes Against Individuals, Hate Crime, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Forcible Rape, Stalking, "three Strikes" Laws