Sexual assault against adults may constitute any one or more of several crimes, including in particular rape and indecent assault and battery. Under Massachusetts Law, both women and men may be victims of sexual assault and both may be assailants.
The criminal act of rape occurs when the offender “has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person and compels such person to submit by force and against his [or her] will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury.” (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 22). Rape may occur when the victim is unable to give consent because she or he is unconscious or because the victim’s alcohol blood level negates her or his ability to give consent. Rape may occur between people who know each other, and between people
who have previously had consensual sexual relations. Rape is punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment. Heavier penalties may apply if the rape causes serious bodily injury, is the result of a group attack, or occurs while the assailant commits certain specified crimes such as robbery. The crime of indecent assault and battery occurs when the offender, without the victim’s
consent, intentionally has physical contact of a sexual nature with the victim. This contact may include an offender touching the breasts, buttocks, or pubic area of a woman or man. Indecent assault and battery is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.