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Statutory Rape + Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations

June 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Crimes that have a sexual nature are often the most heinous and carry severe penalties. If a person has sexual intercourse or sexual contact with someone who is not yet legally an adult, it is considered statutory rape. A young person who is under the age of being able to consent is considered to still be a child. As a result, the adult who has engaged in sexual conduct with them can be charged with statutory rape. This crime is also known as “sexual intercourse with a minor” and is very controversial. Some states recognize a specific age for being legally able to consent while others recognize a different age

Statutory Rape Laws

Statutory rape laws are included under the 42 US Code Section 14016, Enforcement of Statutory Rape Laws. It examines statutory rape as traditionally perpetrated by older men who typically commit the crime multiple times. As a federal crime, statutory rape laws can vary depending on the state as many states don’t have specific laws in place due to varying views. However, statutory rape cases usually get a lot of attention from the media, especially when the situation involves a teacher and a student. Statutory rape is one of the most common types of rape charges as well.

Statutory Rape Crimes and Charges

Due to the differing legal standards in the states, statute rape charges can also vary depending on the state. However, the one thing all states share in common is that the crime is committed when sexual intercourse occurs between an adult and a person who is under the legal under. There must be a specific age difference between the two parties and the perpetrator must usually be older than 18 years of age. This is provision is widely known as “Romeo and Juliet.” In the past, minors could be charged with statutory rape simply for having sexual intercourse with another minor who was only a few months younger. The perpetrator’s age is often a mitigating factor as a result, but the Romeo and Juliet provision is often used as a defense and the charge brought down to a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Mistaken age is also occasionally a defense in some states.

It should be noted that it’s important to distinguish between statutory rape and other types of rape or the crime of child molestation. Generally speaking, with statutory rape, there wouldn’t be a crime or a victim if the younger party was old enough to consent. Depending on the state, the age of consent may be 16, 17 or even 18.

Penalties for Statutory Rape

A person who is arrested and subsequently convicted of statutory rape usually faces a felony charge unless there are mitigating factors in place. Generally speaking, the specific sentence a convicted person receives depends on the circumstances of the crime. However, the most common include the following:

• A prison sentence lasting at least one year
• Probation
• Fines
• Being placed on the Sex Offenders’ Registry list for a certain period of time or even for life

When the judge hands down a sentence to a defendant for statutory rape, the level of offense must be determined first. Typically, this is done based on the age of the victim and the age difference between the defendant and the victim. Then, there are other factors that may come into play, such as if alcohol or drugs were involved or if a pregnancy resulted from the sexual intercourse.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Statutory Rape?

Just like all other criminal offenses, statutory rape has a specific statute of limitations. This is the amount of time during which charges can be filed against a defendant. In most cases, the statute of limitations for statutory rape is six years, but depending on the circumstances, it can be as high as 15 years.

Charges of statutory rape are very serious and should be taken as such. As a result, it’s important that anyone who is facing this charge immediately get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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