An FBI subcommittee is scheduled to meet in Baltimore in mid-October to help the government agency redefine a legal meaning that has remained unchanged for 80 years. The redefinition of rape would have nationwide implications for sexual abuse victims, law enforcement agencies and people facing sex-related criminal charges.

The subject of redefining rape came into national prominence last year when Capitol Hill lawmakers heard victims’ advocates call the 1927 rape definition outdated and vague. Some critics were spurred on by a newspaper report that alleged Baltimore police wrongly classified sex crimes.

A dramatic 70 percent increase in reported rape cases followed an article in The Baltimore Sun that accused city police of an inordinate number of rape case dismissals. The newspaper stated that Baltimore rape reports dropped almost 80 percent since the mid-1990s. Thirty-five percent of cases in 2006 were called “unfounded” by sex crime investigators.

The numbers reported were substantially different compared to national statistics. No other city showed such a striking drop in rape reports or such a substantial increase in cases dismissed.

The newspaper report provided fuel for sexual abuse victims’ advocacy groups and lawmakers who are pushing for an update to the definition of sexual assault. The current, 80-year-old definition of rape covers only male offenders and female victims.

Rape, according to its federal meaning, is considered an act of vaginal penetration, but does not address forced anal or oral acts. Males and those under the influence of intoxicants are not defined as victims.

A change in the definition of rape could greatly affect the way rape cases are handled in the future. Law enforcement will likely take rape cases more seriously than they already do. For those who have been accused of rape, this poses the need for an even greater understanding of the law surrounding such a crime. Having a good understanding of the legal implications of a rape charge or conviction can be very helpful in protecting your freedom. Contact Monroe injury attorneys today to discuss your options.

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