If a woman was raped and then she committed suicide, could the rapist be charged with anything else on top of the charge of rape?

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If a woman was raped and then she committed suicide, could the rapist be charged with anything else on top of the charge of rape?

Even though committing suicide is a capital offense, would the jury and all legal parties focus more on the rape charges? Could the rapist be charged with emotional distress? What are the maximum sentences for any of the outcomes?

Asked on March 4, 2011 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) The rapist--or indeed, any other person--is not criminally responsible for the victim's suicide. That's because suicide is an act motivated by another person's will or choice; no one is responsible for what another does in response to an attack or other action, but only for the direct injuries from the attack. The rapist, in the eyes of the law, did cause the suicide.

2) Suicide is not a capital offense, by the way; murder *may* be, if it can draw the death penalty, but suicide is not.

3) There is no crime for causing emotional distress. There *may* be a civil lawsuit possible against the rapist, which the victim's family might wish to explore with an attorney.

4) The maximum sentence for rape depends entirely on how it was committed and the ages of the victim--forcible rape draws a longer sentence than rape committed without the use of force; sexual assault on a minor draws a longer sentence than on an adult; etc. You need to provide more information for someone to answer this question.


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