Wyoming is one of the few states with a different age of consent for females and males. The age of consent for sex is 16 years old for women, while it is 18 years old for men. Having sex with a minor below the age of consent is statutory rape.

The age of consent law in Wyoming only specifically addresses heterosexual conduct. So, it is uncertain whether there is an age of consent for sodomy.

What Is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape ensues when someone over the age of consent has sex with someone below the age of consent or a minor. The age of consent and the ability of parents to consent for their kids are problems that have been decided differently in many jurisdictions. Even if an individual 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 that younger person has no legal right to consent.

How Does Rape Differ from Statutory Rape?

Rape is when someone forces another individual to have sex against their will. Statutory rape is when the government has passed laws saying that in certain situations, even if both people consent to the sex, it is still against the law.

Can Anyone Press Charges?

In some jurisdictions, anyone can press charges. If someone over the age of consent has sex with someone over the age of consent, the older person can still go to jail even if the only individual pressing charges is the arresting officer.

What If the Younger Person Lies About Their Age?

Even if the younger somebody lies about their age, the older individual is usually still charged because it is the older person’s responsibility to determine the individual’s actual age and make sure their actions are legal.

Are Statutory Rape and Rape the Same Criminal Charge?

Statutory rape involves sexual intercourse with a minor, regardless of whether the victim wants to have sexual intercourse. With a rape charge, the age of the victim does not matter. The issue is whether the victim wanted to have sex or if they were forced into sex.

What Is Serious Bodily Injury?

Serious bodily injury is any physical harm that is permanent or that an person cannot recover from within a year, such as:

  • Deep cuts
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Paralyzed or lost limbs

What Is the Punishment If the Victim Did Not Suffer Serious Bodily Harm?

If the victim was either 14 or 15 years old and they did not suffer from serious bodily harm, the perpetrator will face life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. If the victim was under 14 years of age, the defendant faces life with the possibility of parole after 35 years.

What If There Was No Force Involved?

It is still statutory rape even if the perpetrator did not use force to engage in sexual conduct with the victim. Statutory rape does not require any force, threat of force, or violence.

Does a Prosecutor Have to Prove Anything to Convict Me of This Crime?

In some jurisdictions, anyone may press charges for statutory rape. If someone over the age of consent has sex with someone under the age of consent, the older individual may still go to jail even if the only person pressing charges is the arresting officer. This means the younger individual does not need to press charges for the older individual to be charged.

To convict a defendant of statutory rape, a prosecutor must prove the following three elements:

  • The defendant had sex with the victim, generally intercourse, although some states include other activities in their definition of rape;
  • The defendant and victim were not married when the sexual intercourse occurred; and
  • When the defendant and victim had sex, the victim was under the age of eighteen years old.

Generally speaking, the age and marital status of the parties involved will be straightforward to verify as evidence. Some specific examples of potential evidence could include:

  • Written records of dates and times in which sexual encounters occurred;
  • Emails, text messages, and voicemails containing details regarding meetings between the parties involved;
  • Physical items, such as clothing or personal belongings; and
  • Witness statements, if relevant.

Can Statutory Rape Be a Misdemeanor? Is Statutory Rape a Felony?

If the person engaging in sex with a minor is less than three years older or younger than the minor, then they are guilty of a misdemeanor crime. If they are more than three years older than the minor, they are guilty of a felony crime.

Those over the age of 21 engaging in sex with those under 16 are subjected to considerably more harsh penalties. In particular, if the individual accused of statutory rape is 21 years of age or older, and the victim is under the age of 16, the criminal act is a felony offense punishable by 2 to 4 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

What Are the Defenses for Statutory Rape?

If charged with statutory rape, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in sex crimes is imperative. The two most commonly utilized statutory rape defenses are:

  • It was honestly and reasonably thought that the minor was over the age of eighteen; and
  • No actual sexual intercourse between the defendant and the minor occurred.

Some examples of evidence that may be used for such a defense could include the following:

  • The minor themselves stated that they were over the age of eighteen or made statements alluding to such;
  • The minor showed proof that they were over the age of eighteen, such as having a fake ID; and
  • The defendant met the minor in an adult forum, leading them to think that they were of consenting age.

Exceptions for Minor Partners Who Are Close to Age

Wyoming, like other states, makes allowances for partners who are under the age of consent but close to the same age. The generally allowable age gap is four years. Thus, a minor who is 12 or older can legally consent to sex with a person who is no more than four years older.

Punishment for Sex with a Minor

Violations of Wyoming’s age of consent laws will result in strict punishments. Violators may be incarcerated for up to 20 years in prison.

Consulting an Attorney

If you are accused of rape or are a victim of rape, then a Wyoming criminal lawyer can help you. An experienced lawyer can either clear your name or help you seek legal recourse. He can help you file the appropriate paperwork in court and speak on your behalf.

An experienced criminal law attorney will consider the facts of your case when determining whether there are any defenses available to you. Additionally, a criminal law attorney will defend your rights and represent you in court while potentially arguing for a reduced sentence.

If you are the victim of statutory rape, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. Your rights must be protected, and justice is served. The attorney can work towards a damages award to reimburse you for medical costs associated with the crime, including hospital bills and therapy costs. Although challenging, you should act as quickly as possible to preserve as much evidence as possible.