In general, the age of consent in Missouri for sexual intercourse is 17 years old. This is the age at which a person can consent to have sex with another person who is also that age or older. This age of consent applies to both heterosexual and homosexual conduct.
Is There Any Way to Defend Against Statutory Rape in Missouri?
Unlike other states, Missouri allows for mistake of age to be used as an affirmative defense against statutory rape. In Missouri, a defendant can claim to be not guilty because they reasonably believed that the victim was at least 17 years old. However, the judge or the jury must determine that this belief was reasonable.
Missouri also allows for a legal marriage between the parties to be an affirmative defense. Missouri, like most states, takes the difference in age between the partners into account when determining whether statutory rape has actually occurred. It is legal for a person to have sex with someone who is under the age of consent so long as both parties are at least 14 years old and under 21 years old.
However, if the defendant is 21 years old or older and the victim is under the age of 17, then it is second degree statutory rape or statutory sodomy. If the victim is under the age of 14, then it is first degree statutory rape or statutory sodomy, regardless of how old, or young, the defendant is.
What Could Happen If I Am Convicted?
Missouri permits life imprisonment sentences to be granted if the victim is younger than 12, serious physical injury was threatened or inflicted, or if there were multiple perpetrators involved. The lightest sentence possible for first degree statutory rape or statutory sodomy is 10 years in prison. In contrast, the lightest sentence possible for second degree statutory rape or statutory sodomy is one year in county jail and the maximum sentence is seven years in prison.
Do I Need an Attorney?
The best way to avoid a severe prison sentence for statutory rape is to hire a Missouri lawyer. A local attorney that is experienced in criminal defense will be your best opportunity to avoid the state’s maximum sentences for statutory rape. Not only can a criminal defense attorney in Missouri raise any defenses that are essential to your case, they can also present your case in the best light so that the judge is less likely to give you the maximum sentence.