Age of Consent by State

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What Is Age of Consent?

Every state has laws which dictate at what age a person can legally consent to sex, called “age of consent” laws. If a person has sex with someone who is below the age of consent, they are guilty of statutory rape. Essentially, they have had sex with someone who, according to the law, could not possibly consent to the act. Since rape is sex without consent, they are guilty of a form of rape.

Age of Consent Differences Between Males and Females

In many states, the age of consent for males and females is different. In some states, there is an exception to the age of consent law if the two partners are close to the same age (usually a 2 or 3 year difference), and in most of those states, punishments are harsher if one of the partners is significantly older than the other. Note, though, that if both partners are above the age of consent, any age difference between them is irrelevant.

Also, some states distinguish between sex between a male and a female, and sex between 2 males or 2 females. In many states, until very recently, any type of homosexual sex was illegal, regardless of age. In others, the age of consent for such acts is higher, but it is not altogether illegal.

Age of Consent for Homosexual Conduct

Recently, the United States Supreme Court found that laws which prohibit consensual, private sexual conduct (including homosexual conduct) between adults are unconstitutional, and cannot be enforced by any state. However, some states still have those laws on the books. Therefore, it is unclear exactly what the age of consent for homosexual acts is in those states.

It is probable that a state court, assuming that it did not try to enforce an unconstitutional law, would simply default to the state’s age of consent for heterosexual intercourse, but this is not a sure thing.

Age of Consent by State
 
 
 
 
 
State
Age of Consent
Acceptable Differences Between Ages
 
 
 
 
 
Alabama    
 16
2
 
 
Alaska 
16
3
 
 
Arizona    
18
2
 
 
Arkansas 
16
3
 
 
18
0
 
 
Colorado 
17
4
 
 
Connecticut 
16
2
 
 
Delaware 
18
0
 
 
Florida     
18
0
 
 
Georgia
16
0
 
 
Hawaii
16
5
 
 
Idaho
18
0
 
 
Illinois
17
0
 
 
Indiana
16
0
 
 
Iowa
16
4
 
 
Kansas
16
0
 
 
Kentucky
16
0
 
 
Louisiana
17
3
 
 
Maine
16
5
 
 
16
4
 
 
16
0
 
 
Michigan
16
0
 
 
Minnesota
16
2
 
 
Mississippi
16
2
 
 
Missouri
17
0
 
 
Montana
16
0
 
 
Nebraska
16
0
 
 
Nevada
16
0
 
 
New Hampshire
16
0
 
 
New Jersey
16
4
 
 
New Mexico
16
4
 
 
New York
17
0
 
 
North Carolina
16
4
 
 
North Dakota
18
0
 
 
Ohio
16
0
 
 
Oklahoma
16
0
 
 
18
3
 
 
Pennsylvania
16
4
 
 
Rhode Island
16
0
 
 
South Carolina
16
0
 
 
South Dakota
16
3
 
 
Tennessee
18
4
 
 
Texas
17
3
 
 
Utah
18
10
 
 
Vermont
16
0
 
 
18
0
 
 
Washington
16
2
 
 
West Virginia
16
4
 
 
Wisconsin
18
0
 
 
16
4
 
 

Seeking Legal Help

If you have been accused of statutory rape, you should consult a criminal defense attorney immediately. You should also seek legal counsel if you are involved in a relationship that you believe may violate your state's age of consent laws.

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Last Modified: 10-09-2014 08:22 AM PDT

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