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Consensual sex? Maybe not; you could be charged with a sex crime

You and your significant other have just had consensual sex -- or at least you think so. For young people who are dating, this could be a cloudy issue, especially when considering statutory rape. This particular violation can lead young people to be charged with a sex crime that could result in their name being placed on a sex crime registry for years. Statutory rape is a serious allegation that deserves a serious response from a criminal defense team.

So, what is the definition of statutory rape? In general, this legal violation occurs when someone who is younger than 16 years old has sex with an older person. Young people under age 16 are not able to legally consent to having sexual contact with their partner; however, "voluntary" interactions with a partner who is close to their age may not be considered illegal?

What are the specific requirements? Young people who are younger than 16 years old are not considered victims of statutory rape if their partner is less than four years their senior. Although age 16 is an important cutoff, so is age 14. Second- and third-degree statutory rape both involve sexual contact with someone who is younger than 14 and more than four years younger than the defendant. The less-severe fourth-degree statutory rape involves engaging in intercourse or a sex act with someone between the ages of 14 and 16.

Who reports statutory rape to authorities? Several types of professional workers are mandated by law to report an incident of statutory rape to officers. Those include health care practitioners, teachers and human services workers, among others. The victim of statutory rape is not always the person to report the incident to authorities.

Criminal defendants who are facing statutory rape charges are likely to be minors themselves. Being charged with a sex crime can be scary and confusing, especially if the defendant was ignorant of the law. A criminal defense team can provide additional assistance, protecting the defendant's rights throughout the criminal proceeding.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements" Sep. 22, 2014

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