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Commonwealth v. Lopez

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant and the victim had sex. The victim claims the sex was not consensual, while Defendant claims the victim consented. Before the jury deliberate, Defendant requested an instruction of mistake of fact regarding the victim’s consent. The trial judge denied the request. Defendant was found guilty, and Defendant appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    To constitute rape, there must be an act of sexual intercourse against the victim’s will by the use of or the imminent threat of force.

    Facts.

    Kenny Lopez, Defendant, had sexual intercourse in the woods with victim, near the victim’s residence. The victim claims that she told Defendant that she did not want to have sexual intercourse with him multiple times. Nevertheless, Defendant continued to have sex with her. On the contrary, Defendant claims that the sexual intercourse with the victim was consensual. Defendant was convicted of rape, indecent assault, and battery. Before the jury reached its verdict, Defendant request for a mistake of fact instruction, regarding the victim’s consent. The trial judge denied the request. Defendant appealed. 

    Issue.

    Whether a rape has occurred when there is an act of sexual intercourse against the victim’s will by the use of or the imminent threat of force.

    Held.

    Yes, a rape has occurred when there is an act of sexual intercourse against the victim’s will by the use of or the imminent threat of force.

    Discussion.

    To constitute rape, the Prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an act of sexual intercourse against the victim’s will by the use of or the imminent threat of force. A defendant is solely entitled to a mistake of fact defense instruction when there is a mistake that negates the requisite mental state of the crime. Since the prosecution solely needs to introduce evidence that the defendant intended to have sexual intercourse with the victim, a general intent, rather than an intent that the intercourse to be nonconsensual, mistake of fact defense is not available to Defendant. Further, the record is not ambiguous. The victim claims she did not consent, and the Defendant claims the intercourse as consensual. Therefore, due to the lack of ambiguity, the mistake of fact defense in regards to the consent in not available, and the conviction is affirmed.


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