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State v. Yanez

Supreme Court of Rhode Island
716 A.2d 759 (1998)


Alejandro Yanez (defendant), who was 18 years old, saw a younger girl named Allison on the street and asked her to go out on a date with him. Yanez and Allison had seen each other in passing on prior occasions, but had never met. After the date, Yanez and Allison engaged in sexual intercourse. Allison’s mother learned of the encounter and called the police. Yanez admitted to having consensual sex with Allison, but insisted that Allison had told him that she was 16 years old. In fact, Allison was 13 years old. Yanez was charged with first-degree child molestation sexual assault. At trial, Yanez attempted to introduce evidence of his mistaken belief that Allison was 16 years old based on her maturity, appearance, physical development, and demeanor. The trial court rejected Yanez’s evidence, holding that mistake of fact was not a defense to the crime of child molestation sexual assault. Yanez was convicted and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, with 18 years of the sentence suspended with probation. Yanez appealed, arguing that due process required the trial court to allow him to introduce evidence of his reasonable mistaken belief as to Allison’s age.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Goldberg, J.)

Dissent (Flanders, J.)

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