In Idaho, the age of consent to engage in sexual acts is 18. Put simply, people generally need to be over 18 before they can legally engage in sexual conduct.

What Are Some Issues with Age of Consent in Idaho?

With respect to criminal punishment for violating age of consent laws, Idaho distinguishes between men and women. It is one of the few states that makes a distinction based on gender.

  • Sexual intercourse with penetration with a female under the age of 16 amounts to rape under the Idaho law. Moreover, if the female is 16 or 17, and the male is 3 years older, that man has also committed rape.
  • Under the Idaho system, if the victim is under 16, any sexual conduct will amount to lewd conduct. If the victim is age 16 or 17 and the actor is at least 5 years older, any sexual act or display with the requisite intent is sexual battery. Interestingly, Idaho chooses not to differentiate by gender with these laws.

To have sex legally in Idaho, both partners must be over the age of consent. So, curiously, as the law is written, if both of individuals are under the age of consent and have sex with each other, both of them are committing a crime and are a victim, simultaneously.

Are There Any Exceptions to Age of Consent?

The law does provide for some close-in-age provisions, though they are rather dense. In Idaho, sex with a female who is under 16 is always a crime. This means that even if a male is 16 and the female is 15, and they have sexual intercourse, the male is committing a felony. While there are no definitive exceptions to age of consent, if penetration is not at issue, the sexual acts may be legal so long as the female is at least 16.

As listed above, if a male is 18 and a female is 16 or 17, the intercourse would technically be lawful. However, if the individual is 19 or 20, the sexual conduct may qualify as rape. Additionally, as the laws are written, there may be some other type of sexual offense the male could face.

Are There Any Defenses to Age of Consent?

No. Statutory rape is typically a strict liability offense, means even a reasonable, good faith mistake as to the age of the minor or even if the minor misrepresented their age, the individual may still be committing rape.

Should I Seek Legal Advice?

If you are in a relationship with a minor, regardless of whether you are a minor or not, you should consider speaking to a criminal defense lawyer. Idaho’s age of consent laws are among the most unique and draconian in the nation, and violating the law can carry serious criminal and even civil punishments. Hiring a knowledgeable, local lawyer is the best way to protect your freedom.