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Old 06 June 2015, 09:49 PM
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erwins erwins is offline
Join Date: 04 April 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 12,366

It's not even a mens rea issue. A crime is made up of two basic components: a mens rea (mental state), and an actus reus (criminal act). It's often an issue whether someone intended malice when they carried out an act, but that isn't the issue if the actor is asleep. The actus reus has to be a voluntary act. So a person can't be convicted of trespassing if he was carried onto the property in question against his will. Likewise, a person can't be convicted of assault for kicking someone as a reflex to being struck on the knee, even if they bear ill will toward the person who was kicked. In the case of acts performed while asleep, because the person is unconscious, they are not voluntary acts.*

So yes, it is strange that the victim was raped, but there was no rape. But that sentence only sounds strange because we are mixing terms. The victim was raped in the non-legal sense of the word, which is a perfectly legitimate sense, and a very important one to acknowledge. But there was no crime of rape committed, because what happened doesn't meet the legal definition. That doesn't mean that the victim wasn't the victim of a rape in the broader sense of the word.

* In some instances, you can back up from the involuntary act until you get to a voluntary act that is accompanied by a culpable mental state. So, for example, a person who knows that Ambien makes them assaultive could be guilty of a crime if they take it without ensuring that the people around them will be safe. So they wouldn't be committing a crime the first time they took it, but continuing to take it could be unless they take some clear and effective steps to prevent any assaults in the future. But the crime wouldn't be assault or rape or whatever, it would be something like reckless endangerment, because the culpable act would be taking the pill, not assaulting the victim.

Last edited by erwins; 06 June 2015 at 09:58 PM.
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