Hawaii Marital Rape Laws

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In Hawaii, engaging in sexual conduct with a person by force or without the person’s consent is sexual assault, even if the victim and the defendant are married (often referred to as “marital rape”.)

In years past, husbands did enjoy immunity from prosecution for marital rape, on the outmoded theories that:

  • their wives were mere property, incapable of giving consent
  • the wife and husband were one and the same, which meant that there was no “other” to give consent, or
  • the act of marriage bestowed “continuing consent” to all of the husband’s demands.

Needless to say, these notions are not accepted today, but it was not until the 1960s that they began to be discarded and rape laws were changed to protect wives from sexual assault by their husbands.

For more information on marital rape generally, see Marital Spousal Rape Laws.

Hawaii’s Sexual Assault Laws

In Hawaii, sexual assault includes everything from engaging in oral, anal, or vaginal sex with others by force to engaging in sexual touching without the victim’s consent.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 707-730, 707-731, 707-732, 707-733.)

For more information on these crimes, see Hawaii Sexual Battery Laws.

Some criminal acts could be considered sexual assault or assault (physically injuring another).

For more information on other assault crimes in Hawaii, see Felony Assault Laws in Hawaii and Misdemeanor Assault in Hawaii.

Generally, Hawaii's laws treat sexual assaults between spouses identically to other sexual assaults. However, Hawaii law does protect a person who is married to a child age 14 or 15 from being prosecuted for sexual assault based on consensual sexual contact with the person’s spouse.

Children Age 14 or 15

In Hawaii, having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with anyone under the age of 14 is first degree sexual assault, even if no force is used. It is also sexual assault to engage in sex with children age 14 or 15 unless the defendant is:

  • not more than five years older than the child, or
  • the child’s spouse.

Similarly, it is a crime to engage in sexual activity short of penetration with a child age 14 or 15 unless the defendant is within a few years of the child or is married to the child.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 707-730, 707-732.)

Punishment

The most serious types of sexual assault are class A felonies, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The least serious type of sexual assault is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 706-640, 706-559, 706-660, 706-663, 707-730, 707-731, 707-732, 707-733.)

Sex Offender Registration

As in most states, people who are convicted of sexual assault in Hawaii are required to register as sex offenders, which can impose lasting limits on where a person can live and work.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 846E-1, 846E-2.)

Obtaining Legal Assistance

Being convicted of a sex crime can result in very serious consequences. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact a Hawaii criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you what to expect in court and how to prepare your case to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome.

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