Delaware Age of Consent Lawyers

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is Statutory Rape?

Rape is legally defined as a criminal act that is generally classified as a violent felony. Each state has its own laws about rape which define the act, although the wording may vary across the states. Rape is unlawful sexual intercourse without a person’s consent, regardless of the victim’s gender identity and/or presentation.

There are many different circumstances in which a person may be charged with rape, including:

  • When a person engages in sexual intercourse against another person’s will, or without their consent, by using:
    • force;
    • violence;
    • duress;
    • menace;
    • fear; and/or
    • fraud;
  • When a person is considered to be too intoxicated to consent, and another person engages in sexual conduct with them;
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with someone else who is mentally and/or physically disabled, which prevents them from being able to consent to the sexual conduct; and
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with another person who is legally incapacitated, meaning that the victim was unaware that they are engaging in a sexual act. An example of this would be a person who is asleep.

There are different types of rape which may be categorized according to the factors that are present, including the ages and relationship of the rapist and the victim. Different types of rape charges commonly include:

Statutory rape occurs when someone who is over the age of consent has sex with someone who is below the age of consent, or a minor. This remains true regardless of whether the sexual act was actually consensual. The age of consent may vary by state, generally ranging from 16 to 18 years of age. Even a person who is 19 years of age and has sexual intercourse with another person who is two years younger, when that state’s age of consent it 18, could face statutory rape charges.

The age of consent, as well as the ability of parents to consent for their children, are issues that are governed differently in many jurisdictions. When a person who is under the age of consent initiates sex with someone who is over the age of consent, the law still considers it to be statutory rape because the that younger person has no legal right to give consent.

To further clarify the difference between rape and statutory rape in a legal context, rape occurs when someone forces another person to have sex against their will. Statutory rape occurs when the government has passed laws saying that in certain situations, even when both people consent, it is still against the law.

In some jurisdictions, anyone can press charges for statutory rape. If someone who is over the age of consent has sex with someone who is under the age of consent, the older person can still face rape charges even if the only person who is pressing charges is the arresting officer. Additionally, even if the younger person lies about their age, the older person is generally still charged with statutory rape. This is because it is the older person’s responsibility to determine the real age of the younger person, and to ensure that their actions are legal.

Date rape occurs when unlawful sexual intercourse is committed during a social engagement between the rapist and the victim. Date rape may also occur when a victim has been drugged and the rapist has sexual intercourse with them.

Martial rape is rape that occurs in a marriage, such as when one spouse forces a sexual act on the other spouse without their consent. Martial rape has not always been recognized as an offense; however, it is now considered to be a serious crime. and the defendant is not permitted to use marriage as a defense in a rape case.

Additionally, some states divide rape into degrees based on the seriousness of the offense. First degree rape may include severe physical injuries, and as such carries considerably harsher punishments than second degree rape. Second degree rape may not involve any physical injuries beyond the incident itself.

How Is Age Of Consent Legally Defined?

Once again, every state has its own laws which dictate at what age a person can legally consent to sex, which are called “age of consent” laws. In many states, the age of consent for those who are assigned male at birth, and those who are assigned female at birth, is different. In some states, there is an exception to the age of consent law if the two parties are close to the same age, generally a 2 or 3 year difference, which will be further discussed below.

Additionally, in most of those states, punishments are considerably harsher if one of the parties is significantly older than the other. It is imperative to note that if both parties are above the age of consent, any age difference between them is irrelevant, and rape would not be considered statutory.

Some states distinguish between sex occuring between parties who are considered to be a male and a female, and sex occuring between two people who are considered to be males or two people who are considered to be females. Until recently, many states dictated that any type of homosexual sex was illegal, regardless of age. In other states, the age of consent for such acts is higher, but it is not considered to be illegal.

The United States Supreme Court found that such laws which prohibit consensual, private sexual conduct (including homosexual conduct) between adults are unconstitutional. As such, they cannot be enforced by any state.

However, because some states still have those laws on the books, it is unclear exactly what the age of consent for homosexual acts is in those states. It is probable that a state court, when not attempting to enforce an unconstitutional law, would simply default to the state’s age of consent for heterosexual intercourse.

What Is The Delaware Age Of Consent?

In Delaware, the age of consent to have sex is 16 for those assigned female at birth, and 18 for those assigned male at birth. As in most states, it does not matter if the offender was ignorant as to the victim’s actual age, or whether the offender reasonably believed that the victim had reached the age of consent. Delaware considers having sex with someone who is under the age of 16 as being rape. Having sex with someone under 18, if the offender is over 30, is also considered to be rape.

Compared to some other states, the penalties for violating Delaware’s age of consent laws are considerably harsh. An example of this would be how a typical statutory rape offense could carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

What Is The 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
California  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
Maryland 16 4
Massachusetts 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
Oregon 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
Virginia 18 0
Washington 16 2
West Virginia 16 4
Wisconsin 18 0

Do I Need A Lawyer For Issues With The Delaware Age Of Consent?

If you have been accused of statutory rape, you will need to contact a local Delaware criminal defense lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney can make you aware of your legal rights and options, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.

Law Library Disclaimer


16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer