Penalty for sleep rape increased

Supreme Court Sleep RapeThe Norwegian Supreme Court Building. Photo: Høyesterett

The Supreme Court increases the penalty for sleep rape

A man in his twenties is in the Norwegian Supreme Court sentenced to a year and a half imprisonment for a sleep rape. That is six months more than the verdict of the Court of Appeal.


The man was at first acquitted in the East-Telemark District Court, but when the case was appealed to the Agder Court of Appeal he was found guilty of gross negligent rape. There the three professional judges wanted to sentence him to a year and a half imprisonment, but the four laymen thought that was too strict, and reduced the verdict to 12 months only.

The State Prosecutor felt that the sentencing was inapproperiate and appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the professional judges had assesed it correctly, according to Rett24. The sentence was therefore set in accordance with the prosecution’s claim of one and a half years imprisonment.

This is the first time the Supreme Court deals with a case of gross negligent sleep rape where there is no aggravating nor mitigating circumstances are present.

The Supreme Court explicitly states in the verdict that, according to their opinion, no basis level of gross negligent rape should be established, and states that the outcome has to be based on an assessment on a case to case set of circumstances.

The backdrop for the assessment is that in 2010 the legislator provided clear signals that the penalties for intentional sleep rapes should be increased.

Both drunk

The rape occurred after a visit to a pub in the Tinn municipality of Telemark in December 2015. Both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking enough alcohol that they can safely be characterized as being very much under the influence, according to Telemarksavisa.

The victim, who is in her twenties as well, explained in court that she woke up because a man was lying on top of her, but she could not state with certainty who that person was. The man claims not to remember what occurred, but nevertheless denies having sexual intercourse with the woman without her consent.

Clear signals

The leader of the Supreme Court in this case, Hilde Indreberg writes:

“In my view, the clear signals that imply a sharpening of the level of sentencing expressed in the current legislative proposals,  which are followed up by the courts, is that the sentence in this case must be set higher than stipulated by majority of the court of appeals. I, as was he minority view, has reached the conclusion that the sentence should be imprisonment for one year and six months – in line with the claim made by the prosecution.”


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