Statutory Rape and the “Close in Age Exemptions”

Posted by on Jun 24, 2017 in Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Statutory rape is a non-violent sexual activity between an adult (a person who is at least 18 years old) and a person below the legal age of consent (a person below 16 or 18 as states differ when it comes to age of consent). Though different from forcible rape which is non-consensual and which is usually accomplished through the use of force and/or weapon, statutory rape is still considered a serious crime in many jurisdictions in the U.S.

The crime of statutory rape can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the ages of the victim and the perpetrator. This offense carries very harsh punishments, including really large fines, years in jail and, in many states, a mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender. While it is true that statutory rape statutes only aim to protect minors from sexual predators, it also cannot be denied that many of these statutes have unintended consequences due to their many legal gray areas. One example is charging with statutory rape two teenagers who engage in consensual sex simply because both are just 15 years old. Though underage, they can both be convicted and possibly be required to register as sex offenders for life.

To save many teenagers from statutory rape prosecution and conviction, many states have passed the “close in age exemptions,” a law that will not criminalize: (i) two individuals under the age of consent if they have sexual relationship with one another; or, (ii) an older individual who has a sexual relationship with a person who is under the age of consent. There is a limit in this “close in age exemption,” though.

a. In some states, where the age of consent is 18, for example, a person who is either 16 or 17 years old is still legally allowed to consent with an older partner, so long as this partner is under the age of 30.

According to the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, in the state of Texas, statutory rape is the charge issued against individuals accused of engaging in sexual activity with an individual under the age of 17 if that individual is more than three years older than the minor in question. Statutory rape is considered a 1st degree felony if the minor is under the age of 14, and a 2nd degree felony if the minor is under the age of 17. The 1st degree felony charge carries a potential prison sentence of 5 to 99 years, while the 2nd degree felony charge can result in 2 to 20 years in prison.

b. Marriage exemption. This allows a young individual to consent, but only to his or her spouse

c. Close in age exemption of four years. A person under the age of consent can have consensual sex with an older person who in no more than four years older than him or her. This means that minors below the age of 16 may consent to a partner who is no more than 4 years older; however, those under the age of 12 may not consent under any circumstances.

There are instances, however, when a person had reason to believe that the one who consents to him or her is over the age of consent when, in fact, he or she is not. This may be due to a fake I.D. or the person lied about his or her age. Whatever the case, anyone charged with statutory rape should understand that this is one serious offense that can ruin many years of his or her future if he or she is convicted. A conviction will require that his or her name, current address, and picture be displayed in the Internet, that is, registered into the national sex offender registry, for all to see.

The law firm Horst Law explains that simply being accused of a crime can change your life. The penalties of a conviction can haunt you for years after you’ve served your sentence and may affect what kinds of jobs you’re able to obtain and even where you’re allowed to live. However, it’s important to remember that an accusation is just that: an accusation. You still have a real chance to defend your rights and protect your future from the challenges that would come with a conviction. You still have a real chance to defend your rights and protect your future from the challenges that would come with a conviction, such as jail time, fines, or having to register as a sex offender.

 

 

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