Yes, There Really Is Such a Thing as Marital Rape
Most would consider intimacy between husband and wife as expected and natural. However, just because a couple is married does not give either party the right to assert themselves without consent. Yes, there really is such a thing as marital rape.
Truth be told, there was a time when a husband or wife would be exempt from prosecution for sexual assault against his or her spouse. The United States laws followed the words attributed to a 17th century British jurist, Sir Matthew Hale, who wrote that husbands could not be guilty of a rape of a wife because “by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract.”
Fast forward to the not so distant past. NJSA 2C:14-5 (b) plainly states that under New Jersey laws, “No actor shall be presumed to be incapable of committing a crime under this chapter because of age or impotency or marriage to the victim.” Chapter 14 of the New Jersey Statutes deals with claims regarding sexual assault.
No doubt marital rape is underreported. According to one study, “no husband (in the United States) had been successfully convicted for the rape of his wife until the late 1970s.” More than likely, it’s no coincidence that the New Jersey exemption for prosecution went into effect in 1979.
Marital Rape: Three Considerations
All things considered, there are three important factors when it comes to a sexual assault between a husband and wife. Two of these include:
- In New Jersey, rape falls under the definition of sexual assault. It is also considered a predicate act of domestic violence if it involves couples who are married or otherwise part of a defined intimate relationship. Victims seeking protection against future acts of domestic violence may petition the court for a restraining order.
- Sexual assault, which includes sexual penetration is a crime. Again, the State may prosecute a case involving marital rape. In such a case, it would be critical to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Personal Injury Actions: Tevis Claims
There is one more consideration for victims of marital rape, which also includes those who have suffered any other type of personal injury at the hands of their spouse. Under Tevis v. Tevis, victims may seek money damages for injuries – even if their husband or wife caused them.
The facts of the Tevis case may be of interest. The Tevis couple were already divorced when Janina Tevis sued Michael Tevis for injuries related to a physical assault during their marriage. When the personal injury case went to trial, the jury awarded Janina damages.
Michael Tevis appealed, and the matter ultimately went to the Supreme Court. It continues to be precedential law. The Supreme Court found that the “potential for money damages was relevant to marital proceedings.” Therefore, since the personal injury claim existed prior to the conclusion of the parties’ divorce, it needed to be filed as part of the dissolution.
To this day, Tevis is regarded as the law when it comes to filing claims against a spouse for personal injuries in conjunction with divorce proceedings.
Marital rape or any type of spousal assault represents heinous charges. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, our office has experience in domestic violence, criminal defense, family law, and personal injury. Contact us to go over the circumstances of your case and to learn how we can help you.