Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary
Need Professional Help? Talk to a Lawyer
Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area
- The crime of having sexual intercourse with another person without consent. Common law defined rape as unlawful intercourse by a man against a woman who is not his wife by force or threat and against her will. However, modernly, states have broadened the definition so that marriage, gender, and force are not relevant -- lack of consent is the crucial element. Statutory rape occurs when the victim is under the legal age of consent even if the intercourse is consensual.