Sex Offenses Law

What Are Differences Between Rape and Statutory Rape?

Key Takeaways:

  • Rape is having sex with someone without their consent, and statutory rape is with someone too young to legally consent.
  • Each state has its own age for when it’s legal to have sex.
  • You can get in serious legal trouble for rape or statutory rape, and a lawyer can help you understand the law.

Rape involves sex without consent. Sexual conduct without consent can mean someone is using force, threats, or drugs to have sex with someone against their will. Sex with someone under the age of consent means that they legally cannot consent, even if they say they want to. Statutory rape is sex with someone under the age of consent.

Rape by force and statutory rape can be treated the same way under state law. The age of consent varies by state, so it is important to understand your state’s sex crime laws if you are accused of statutory rape. A local criminal defense lawyer can give you legal advice if you are facing statutory rape criminal charges.

Statutory Rape vs. Rape Charges

The term “rape” generally makes people think of forcible sexual penetration by violence or threat of harm. However, there can be different forms of rape. Types of rape or sexual assault can include:

  • Statutory rape
  • Spousal rape
  • Date rape
  • Forcible rape
  • Aggravated rape
  • Diminished capacity rape

Generally, the definition of rape means someone does not consent or cannot consent to the sexual act. Someone cannot consent to sex if they are under the age of consent. The law considers them too young to decide whether they understand their actions when it comes to sex. Someone may also be unable to consent if they are too drunk or impaired by drugs. Individuals with mental disabilities may also be considered to be unable to consent.

Statutory Rape

States have an age of consent. If a victim is under the age of consent, they cannot legally have sex or sexual contact with another person. This is true even if the alleged victim is otherwise a willing participant in sex. In some cases, the minor may be the instigator of consensual sex.

There is no requirement for force in statutory rape cases. Most state statutory rape laws do not allow minors to consent; it doesn’t matter whether force was used during a sexual encounter.

What Is the Age of Consent?

The age of consent is the age when someone is legally able to give consent to sexual relations. If someone is under the age of consent, they can’t have consensual sex. Sex with someone under the age of consent is considered nonconsensual sexual intercourse, which is a crime. In some states, underage sex is treated the same as sex by force or violence.

The age of consent is different in every state. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the age of consent ranges from 16 to 18 years of age. However, there are additional factors, including:

  • Age differentials
  • Minimum age of the victim
  • Minimum age of the defendant

The age when a person can legally consent to engage in sexual activity varies by state. In some cases, it may not be statutory rape if the people involved are close in age. For example, it is illegal in New York for someone over the age of 21 to have sex with someone under the age of 17. These age-difference laws are known as “Romeo and Juliet laws.”

The age of consent is not necessarily the same as the age of majority. For example, in Wisconsin, the age of consent and the age of majority are 18 years old. However, in Ohio, the age of consent is 16, but a 16-year-old or 17-year-old is still considered a minor for other purposes.

Penalties for Rape and Statutory Rape Charges

Some states have separate criminal charges for rape and statutory rape. Other states consider rape by force and statutory rape to be the same thing. Statutory rape can also be considered the same as child abuse or child molestation. However, there are different factors that can affect the criminal penalties for sex crimes, including:

  • Age of the victim
  • Age of the perpetrator
  • Use of force
  • Use of drugs
  • Injury or harm

Under New York law, those who are over the age of 18 and have sex with someone under the age of 13 can face 10 to 25 years in prison. However, the prison sentence may only be three or four years for someone over the age of 21 who has sex with a 16-year-old

Rape of younger minors may involve aggravated criminal charges. With aggravated rape, penalties can be harsher and sentences can last longer.

Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender for Statutory Rape?

One of the most severe penalties of being accused of a sex crime is facing sex offender registration. If you are convicted of sex offenses, you may be required to register as a sex offender when you are released from prison. Sex offender registries are public, and your friends and neighbors can see your listing online, including your photo, address, and criminal convictions.

If a person is accused of sexual assault or rape, it can help to speak with an attorney who understands sexual offense defenses. A criminal defense attorney can review your case and help you learn more about your rights and legal options.

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