In North Carolina, the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16 years old. However, there are some notable exceptions.
School Teacher: An employee of a school cannot have any sexual activity with any student at that school, unless they are married. This prohibition covers adults and students, and continues to cover them as long as the younger person is a student at any school, regardless of their age.
Four Years in Age: North Carolina also has a liberal "close-in-age" provision. This provision allows for anyone who is above 16 to have sexual relations with another individual who is no more than 4 years younger than they are. Thus, a 14 year old and a 17 year old can consent to have sexual activity without fear of prosecution.
Are There Any Other Unique Provisions?
As written, the law only to applies to "vaginal intercourse," and therefore presumably only to heterosexual sexual acts. As a result, it is not clear what North Carolina’s age of consent for homosexual conduct is. However, differentiating between homosexual and heterosexual conduct is decidedly unconstitutional. Thus, it can be assumed that the same rules apply to same-sex couples as they do to opposite sex couples.
Are There Any Defenses to Statutory Rape?
Not really. This is particularly the case in a state with such broad close-in-age provisions. Having sex with a minor in violation of age of consent laws is considered a strict liability offense, so it does not matter if someone had a good-faith, mistaken belief, or even if they were lied to.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you believe you have violated North Carolina's age of consent law, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Prosecution for these sort of crimes carries very serious criminal and civil penalties. A North Carolina criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law, explain your rights, and represent you in the event of prosecution.