Rape and the Common Law

Rape and the Common Law

Learn about the changing elements under the common law for the crime of rape, as well as state-law enhancements to the crime.


This tutorial will cover crimes of rape and property theft, which along with homicide, comprise the three most common types of substantive offenses you are likely to run across. Let's start with the basics of rape under the common law.

I. Common law rape

Traditionally, rape is defined as sexual intercourse by a man with a woman if they aren't married, the man uses or threatens physical force, and the woman does not consent. In order to constitute an adequate threat of force, the common law...