A thorough discussion of the use of force to accomplish the criminal act of rape may be found in Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, 641 A.2d 1161 (Pa. 1994).
Defendant was convicted of rape after being involved in an alleged acquaintance rape situation in a college dorm room. Defendant appealed his conviction. The appellate court reversed the defendant’s conviction, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the reversal of defendant’s conviction. Jurisdictions require one of two standards in showing a use of force:
1. Force requiring some act in addition to the physical effort required to accomplish the sexual penetration; or
2. Simply that amount of effort required to accomplish the nonconsensual sexual penetration.
Defendant was convicted using the latter standard, but the appellate courts believed that the Pennsylvania statute required the former standard.
Please discuss the following:
1. Which of these two standards do you think is a proper “test” for courts to use when determining if a rape occurred?
2. Do you think that the court in this case made the proper determination and why?
The case may be found at this link:
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