North Carolina Statutory Rape of a Person 15 Years of Age or Younger Lawyers

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 Does North Carolina Have a Statute Criminalizing Statutory Rape?

North Carolina has three criminal statutes devoted to statutory rape offenses: statutory rape of a child by an adult, first-degree statutory rape, and statutory rape of a person 15 years of age or younger. Statutory rape of a child by an adult is the crime of someone at least 18 years old engaging in vaginal intercourse with a victim under the age of 13. Someone commits first-degree statutory rape if they engage in vaginal intercourse with a victim under the age of 13 while at least four years older than the victim and at least 12 years old.

The first thing you should do if you are facing statutory rape charges in North Carolina is to understand the specific elements of the charges and begin working with a skilled North Carolina criminal defense attorney. They can develop a defense strategy according to the facts of your case.

Those facing statutory rape charges are often misunderstood, and a North Carolina statutory rape defense attorney can provide you with the information you need as you look for legal representation and consider your defense options.

What Is the Statutory Rape of an Individual 15 Years of Age or Younger in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the statutory rape of a person who is 15 years of age or younger involves engaging in vaginal intercourse with anyone younger than 16 years old, which is the age of consent in North Carolina. A person charged with a crime must be at least 12 years old and at least four years older than the victim.

Does This Law Apply to Married Couples?

No. A consensual sexual encounter between a married couple is not statutory rape. In North Carolina, an individual can get married at the age of 15 if they have a child with the person they are marrying and obtain the court’s approval. Otherwise, they must be 16 to marry.

What Is the Punishment for This Crime?

For a first conviction, the crime is a Class C felony punishable by 58 to 73 months in prison. If the perpetrator is at least six years older than the victim, the crime is a Class B1 felony. A person convicted of a Class B1 felony for the first time will serve 192 to 240 months in prison.

Does the Age of the Alleged Victim and Alleged Perpetrator Make a Difference in Determining the Charges?

The age of both the alleged victim and the defendant can make a significant difference in the specific charges under North Carolina law, as illustrated by the above descriptions of statutory sex offenses. Certain types of statutory rape and related offenses occur only when the alleged victim is 12 or younger, while others occur only when the alleged victim is 15 or younger.

Depending on the age difference between the alleged victim and the defendant, some of the offenses described above can be treated differently and subject to different penalties upon conviction. In the case of statutory rape of a person 15 years old or younger, the offense is charged as a Class B1 felony when the defendant is six years older than the alleged victim. When the defendant is between four and six years older than the alleged victim, the offense is charged as a Class C felony. The same distinctions apply to the crime of “statutory sexual offense with a 15-year-old or younger.”

Can Cases Involving Teachers and Students Result in Separate Charges?

North Carolina has a specific criminal offense for statutory rape involving a teacher and a student. Under North Carolina law, any of the following people may face charges for “sexual activity with a student” if the employee is at least four years older than the student and engages in vaginal intercourse or another sexual act with the student:

  • Teachers;
  • School administrators;
  • Student-teachers;
  • School safety officers; or
  • Coaches

Will Statutory Rape Convictions Require Sex Offender Registration?

In North Carolina, statutory sex offense convictions, including statutory rape and the other offenses we discussed here, require registration on the Sex Offender Registry. Any “reportable conviction” requires registration, including several sex offenses involving minors not mentioned here, such as sexual exploitation of children or taking indecent liberties with children.

Suppose you are convicted of an offense that the state of North Carolina considers a sexually violent offense or an offense against a minor. In that case, you will be convicted of a “reportable offense.”

Being in a relationship with the alleged victim or having the minor’s consent is not a defense against statutory rape charges. Therefore, you cannot avoid registration on the Sex Offender Registry if the alleged victim consented to the sexual act or if you were in a relationship with the alleged victim.

Note That More Than One Defense May Be Applicable to Your Case

In your case, you may be able to use a variety of defense strategies, such as:

  • Either the alleged victim was not a minor or was not below the age outlined in the statute;
  • On the date of the offense, you were over the age difference required by the statute; or
  • You were married to the alleged victim at the time of the offense.

Is Consent a Legal Defense to Statutory Rape Charges in North Carolina? What if I Can Prove That I’m in a Relationship With the Alleged Victim?

It is crucial to understand that consent is never a defense to statutory rape. The issue of consent may be a defense to other sex offenses, but in these cases, the offense is only based on the age and sexual act of the parties. Being in a relationship with the alleged victim is also not a defense.

Consequences of a Statutory Rape Conviction Can Extend Far Beyond the Terms of Your Sentence
Statutory rape and related offenses can come with serious penalties, including imprisonment. The consequences of a statutory rape conviction will extend far beyond the terms of the sentence. Once you have served your sentence, you will need to register on the Sex Offender Registry, which means that your conviction will be searchable by anyone in your neighborhood, your place of employment, your child’s school, etc.

In addition, anyone who is convicted of sex crimes will not be able to live within 1,000 feet of a childcare center or a school, meaning your housing options will be limited. You may be denied certain loans and credit, and you will likely be ineligible for many jobs.

Will I Be Eligible to Have a Statutory Rape Charge Expunged?

Although many criminal offenses are eligible for expungement under North Carolina law, statutory sex offenses cannot be expunged. State law makes it clear that if a conviction requires registration as a sex offender, a petition for expunction cannot be filed.

As a result, if you are convicted of any of the statutory sexual offenses discussed here, the conviction will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. You cannot hide your conviction from future employers, colleagues, or neighbors, even after you are no longer required to register on the Sex Offender Registry.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me in My Statutory Rape Case?

You should immediately contact a North Carolina criminal lawyer for help with your statutory rape charge. If you hire a lawyer, they will advise you of the best defenses available and help you defend yourself in court against the charges.

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