The Three Marital Exemptions in Ohio's Rape Statute

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Law & Fact


marital exemption, rape, Ohio law


According to the old common law conceptualization of rape derived from England, a husband could not be convicted of raping his wife. The so-called marital exemption to rape was often expressed in the requirement that the victim of rape be a woman other than the defendant's wife. Most commentators trace the marital exemption to Lord Matthew Hale's famous statement: "[T]he husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract." Although the modern trend is clearly in the direction of eliminating the marital exemption, or limiting its applicability by making exceptions to its use, the exemption has persisted into the 21st century and still appears in some forms in current rape or sexual assault statutes throughout the United States, including the state of Ohio.


A copy is available in the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library Special Collections