The age of consent in for sex in Rhode Island is 16 years old. This only applies to heterosexual conduct. Rhode Island has a law on the books that makes homosexual conduct illegal. The Supreme Court, as applied to consenting adults in private settings, has declared such laws, unconstitutional. Because of this, Rhode Island has no age of consent for homosexual conduct.
Like many other states, Rhode Island makes allowances for adolescents who are under the age of consent, but close to the same age (known as a Romeo and Juliet Law). Generally, anyone over the age of 14 can consent to have sex with anyone under the age of 18.
However, once somebody is over the age of 18, there are almost no circumstances in Rhode Island under which they can legally have sex with someone who is under the age of consent.
What is Third Degree Sexual Assault?
In Rhode Island, statutory rape is referred to as “third degree sexual assault.” Statutory rape occurs when someone over the age of consent has sex with someone below the age of consent, or a minor who is under the age of 16 in Rhode Island. The age of consent and the ability of parents to consent for their children are issues that have been decided differently in many jurisdictions.
Even if an individual who is under the age of consent, says 'yes' and initiates sex with someone over the age of consent, the law says it is still statutory rape because the that younger person has no legal right to give consent.
What are the Penalties?
If you are found guilty of third degree sexual assault, then you can face up to 5 years in prison. But if you are over the age of 18 and the victim under the age of 14, then you can be charged with child molestation. There are two degrees of severity for the charge of child molestation, but the differences between the two are determined by the facts of the case.
However, ultimately the severity of the punishment is based on the age of the people involved. If the defendant is over the age of 18 (and if much older than 18) and the victim is under 18 or under the age of 14, then the severity of the punishment will go up.
Should I Seek Legal Help?
If you believe you have violated Rhode Island's age of consent laws, you should seek the legal advice of a criminal lawyer immediately. A local criminal lawyer will be best situated to advise you of your rights and present your options to you.