Statutory Rape Lawyers | Picacho Office | Serving Pinetop, AZ
1546 E White Mountain Boulevard, PO Box 3128, Picacho, AZ 85935
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Statutory rape is sexual intercourse or sexual contact with someone who is below the age of consent (which varies from state to state). Someone below the age of consent cannot legally consent to a sexual relationship, even if they give verbal consent. It is not up to the underage individual whether or not to press statutory rape charges. The prosecutor can charge a defendant with statutory rape offenses without the alleged victim’s consent.
The penalties for statutory rape depend on the jurisdiction. Statutory rape can be charged as rape, sexual abuse of a minor, or other sexual offenses. Criminal penalties may depend on a number of aggravating and mitigating factors, including:
Rape is unlawful sexual intercourse. Rape can be committed through force, coercion, or when the victim cannot give consent. For example, someone who is passed out or drugged may not have the mental state to consent to sexual penetration. With statutory rape, the victim cannot give consent because the law does not consider them to be old enough to give legal consent.
With underage sexual intercourse, it does not matter what the underage person does or says. The underage individual may be encouraging or pursuing sex but they still cannot give legal consent. If the underage person says they will not tell anyone, the defendant can still be charged if law enforcement officers find out about the sexual relationship.
In some cases, parents or guardians may be okay with a sexual relationship between the defendant and their minor child. However, it does not matter if the parents give consent or the victim says that it is okay. If a teacher, counselor, or other friend’s parent finds out about the sexual relationship and reports it, the police can still make an arrest for rape or sexual assault.
The age of consent is 16 to 18, depending on the state. However, the defendant’s age may also be considered in statutory rape charges. There may need to be a sufficient age differential between the victim and the defendant, if the victim is above an age minimum. There may also be a minimum age of the defendant in order to prosecute someone for statutory rape. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to understand the legal defense strategies in your case.
In most cases, statutory rape or sexual assault of a minor is a felony offense. The felony penalties for a statutory rape conviction may include more than a year in prison. When the minor victim is under a certain age, the prison sentence can be much longer, including up to life imprisonment.
In addition to jail time and fines, statutory rape may be considered a “registerable offense.” After the defendant serves their sentence and is released from jail, they may have to register with local law enforcement agencies as a sex offender. Sex offenders have mandatory registration every year or whenever they move.
Sex offenders are put on a database that is public information and can be searched by the defendant’s name or search location. The sex offender registry may have identifying information, including:
In some cases, it may be a defense if the defendant had an honest and reasonable belief that the victim was over the age of consent. However, simply claiming the victim lied about their age may not be enough. It can help the defendant’s case if there are factors supporting their claim, including:
However, even if the defendant has substantial evidence of a reasonable belief of the age of consent, there may be a bar to this defense if the victim is under a certain age. If you have questions about this or other legal defenses, talk to a sex crimes defense attorney.
For criminal statutory rape laws, it is up to the prosecutor to bring criminal charges. The victim is not required to support criminal charges and the victim cannot drop criminal charges. Even if the victim comes to the defendant’s defense, the prosecutor can still pursue a felony conviction.
The victim of statutory rape may be able to file a civil complaint against the defendant for civil penalties. A civil cause of action may allow the victim to recover damages from the defendant, including monetary compensation.
There are severe penalties associated with a statutory rape charge, including harsh prison sentences and lifetime sex offender registration. A criminal defense attorney can provide an aggressive defense strategy to help you avoid criminal charges. Contact an experienced attorney for legal advice.
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