Statutory rape occurs when a person has consensual sex with someone under the age of consent. It is a strict liability crime, which means that the intention of the parties is not considered. Therefore, "mistake of age" is not usually a defense to the crime. Statutory rape laws are meant to prevent minors from being sexually exploited by adults.
It is considered statutory rape to have sex with anyone under 17 years old in New York. However, there is a close-in-age exception that allows for a 4 year age gap as long as the minor is older than 15.
New York, like many other states, classifies statutory rape under different felony classes based on the age difference. If the perpetrator is 21 years old or older and the minor is under 17 years old, then it is a class E felony which carries a prison sentence of 3 to 4 years.
If the perpetrator is older than 18 years old and the minor is under 15 years old, then it is a class D felony, which has a maximum prison sentence of 7 years. If the perpetrator was older than 18 years old and had sex with a minor younger than 13, then that is a Class B felony, which can mean 10-25 year prison sentence.
If you have been accused of statutory rape you should speak with one or more experienced New York criminal defense lawyer immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you of your rights, help you build a defense, and advise you as to what your options may be. It is especially important to get an attorney quickly because a conviction for statutory rape can mean having to register as a sex offender for life.