Sexual assault stories have dominated the news recently, and we have received many questions about defending others against sexual assault and rape. We reached out to Independent Program Attorney Zack Simmons to get the answers to your legal questions on defending a third party against rape and sexual assault.
Zack Simmons: In my teachings with US LawShield, the question comes up can you use deadly
force to stop a sexual assault of yourself, a loved one, or any other person?
Title 21 Oklahoma Statute 733 says you can use deadly force to terminate or prevent the commission of a forcible
felony. Now, what is a forcible felony in Oklahoma? A forcible felony is any felony which includes the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person. Now, in Oklahoma there are a lot of felonies on the books
and some of them are clearly not forcible felonies. These include theft crimes, forgery, felony DUI, drug
trafficking things of that nature. However, they’re also felonies on the books that clearly are forcible felonies.
This can include robbery, burglary in the first degree, meaning you are at home and someone tries to break into your home. This can include rape and carjacking things of that nature. The question that often comes up though is what about those situations that are an unwanted sexual touching but don’t amount to rape?
These situations are often covered under the sexual battery statute in Oklahoma. Now, sexual battery can be defined as unwanted sexual touching, and it’s a very broad statute that can cover a number of
situations. The court of criminal appeals has addressed at least once when you can or cannot use deadly force to repel sexual battery. The situation I’m talking about is a case where there was an unwanted touching of breasts or buttocks. In that case, they found that alone with no further aggravators to that situation you cannot use deadly force to repel a simple unwanted touching of a breast or buttock.
However, that situation can change depending on many different factors. For example, if someone, while touching your breasts or buttocks, then attempts to hold you down and remove your clothing this borders in to the territory of attempted rape and this could be a forcible felony. Or if you resist the unwanted touching and then that person decides to physically harm you by putting their hands around you or trying to drag you into a situation that you don’t want to like a car, the bushes, something like that. This could also be considered a forcible felony and you would be within your right to use deadly force to repel that attack. Now, this situation where deadly force is being used. This can apply to yourself, a loved one, or potentially another person.
U.S. LawShield always cautions you to use extreme caution when entering a situation where you’re defending a
person that you do not know. These situations can often be misinterpreted or misread, and even if it appears at the time you use deadly force in a situation you believe yourself to be right that doesn’t mean way out later on you can’t be held liable criminally or civilly and find yourself in a situation where you’re incarcerated or liable to someone for a large civil settlement.
One concern we all should keep in mind is the possibility of the two who are engaged in this activity may be related (i.e. husband and wife, could get sticky).