Statutory Rape Laws

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape is a criminal action that occurs when an individual engages in sexual activities with someone under the age of consent for that state. It is important to note that statutory rape is a strict liability crime and the exact crime will differ by state.

In determining whether or not statutory rape has occurred, the intention of the parties engaging in the sexual activities is not considered when determining guilt. Instead, only the individuals’ ages will be considered when determining guilt.

In other words, it is immaterial to the criminal statutory rape case as to whether or not the younger party consented to the sexual activity or not. Additionally, mistake of age is usually not allowed as a legal defense to being charged with statutory rape. Legal defenses will be discussed further below.

How Does Rape Differ from Statutory Rape?

It is important to note that statutory rape is not the same as general rape. This is because statutory rape generally deals with one party engaging in sexual activities with a party that has not reached the age of consent. The general crime of rape may involve two parties that are both past the age of consent, and is not considered to be a strict liability crime.

In other words, rape is a criminal act that occurs when one person forces another person to have sex against their will. On the other hand, statutory rape is when the government has passed laws in the state which provide that in certain situations, even if both people consent to the sexual act, the act itself is still against the law.

Does Statutory Rape Apply to Young Boys?

In short, yes, statutory rape does apply young boys the same way that it applies to young girls. In other words, the state criminal statutes regarding statutory rape are gender neutral. This means that regardless of the young party’s sexual identification, so long as the sexual act still occurred, then the older party will still face criminal liability.

What About Homosexual Statutory Rape?

In the past, there were specific statutory rape laws in some states that provided a different statute regarding homosexual statutory rape. However, most states no longer have homosexual statutory rape laws present in their criminal statutes. Instead, there is a general statutory rape law that is gender neutral on its face.

This means that regardless of an individual’s sexual orientation, so long as one of the parties has not reached the age of consent, then the other party that has reached the age of consent may be punished for statutory rape. Of course, the individual that is alleged to have committed statutory rape may have a legal defense that they may raise that could have the charges being brought against them dropped.

Can Anyone Press Charges?

In many jurisdictions, statutory rape statutes allow anyone that possess parental rights over the minor to press charges. This means that it is not necessary for the minor to press charges on their own behalf. In fact, even if the minor does not wish to pursue criminal charges, their parents or legal guardians may pursue criminal charges against their child’s wishes. As such, anyone with parental rights or a legal guardianship over the minor may pursue criminal charges.

What If the Younger Person Lies About Their Age?

If a younger person, i.e. the minor in a statutory rape case, lies about their age to the other individual, then that may not be utilized as a legal defense for criminal charges being brought against the other individual in most states.

This means that even if the younger person lies about their age, the older person is usually still criminally charged with statutory rape, because it is the older person’s responsibility to determine the actual age of the individual prior to initiating any physical contact with them. It is important to note that even being provided a fake identification that stated that they minor was older is generally also not enough to have criminal statutory rape charges dropped in many jurisdictions.

What Are the Possible Legal Penalties for Committing Statutory Rape?

Once again, statutory rape is a serious crime and is often considered to be a violent felony in most states. As far as the exact penalties for a statutory rape conviction, the legal penalties will vary by state and depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. However, a criminal conviction may very likely result in incarceration for the defendant, along with possible criminal fines.

The length of time an individual is required to serve in prison will depend on the severity of the crime and whether or not the defendant has any prior convictions for statutory rape or other felony convictions. In certain cases, a conviction for statutory rape may even result in a life sentence for the defendant, depending on the facts shown at trial.

As far as statutory rape crimes, the potential legal penalties and periods of imprisonment are often higher as the criminal cases involve a minor. Some states even require a minimum prison sentence or may require a court to impose a sentence that does not include probation or early parole for individuals convicted of statutory rape.

Are There Any Defenses to Statutory Rape?

A legal defense is something that may be raised in a criminal matter for a person accused of a crime to have the criminal penalties being brought against them reduced or the case dismissed completely. Examples of legal defenses in a statutory rape case may include:

  • Mistake of Age: A defendant in a statutory rape case can argue that they believed that the victim was over the age of consent. However, this defense varies from state to state.
    • As noted above, most states hold that statutory rape is a crime of strict liability, which means it doesn’t matter what the defendant believed the victim’s age to be.
    • Other states will limit a mistake of age defense assertion to certain circumstances, such as evidence that the defendant had a reasonable basis for their mistaken belief about the other party’s age;
  • Rape by Fraud: In asserting rape by fraud the defendant argues that the minor purposely misrepresented their age in order to engage in sexual activities with the defendant.
    • In other words, the defendant argues that they are the victim of the minor’s twisted desire to have sex with someone older than the law permits.
    • It is important to note that this defense is very new, so it will be difficult to utilize in most cases;
  • “Romeo and Juliet”: There are many states that have exceptions to statutory rape based on the age difference between the partners
    • For example, some states may allow parties that are within one or two years of age to raise this defense to have criminal charges dismissed;
  • Mental Incapacity: In raising a mental incapacity defense the defendant will assert that they are insane; and/or
  • Innocence: The best legal defense to charges related to statutory rape is actual innocence.
    • As such, if the defendant is able to prove that the alleged conduct did not in fact occur or that the alleged conduct occurred with someone else and not the defendant, then the charges against the defendant must be dismissed.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I am Charged with Rape?

If you have been arrested or charged with statutory rape, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. Specifically, a statutory rape defense attorney will be able to help discuss your best course of legal action. An experienced statutory rape attorney can also help you understand your state’s specific laws on statutory rape, and how those laws will affect your legal rights and options.

Statutory rape lawyers are often paramount in order to ensure that an individual that has been accused of statutory rape is able to timely raise any applicable legal defenses. A statutory rape lawyer will be able to help you determine whether there are any legal defenses available to you based on the specifics of your case. Finally, an experienced attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, throughout the process.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer