Statutory rape laws and the age of consent vary throughout the U.S. Here in Maryland, it’s 16. That means that if someone has sex with a person under that age, he or she has committed statutory rape and could face criminal charges.
Whether an alleged statutory rape is charged as a misdemeanor or felony and the level of the offense depend in part on the specific act(s) alleged and the ages of the people involved. It may also depend on whether a defendant has previously been charged with a sexual offense, whether drugs or alcohol were involved, and whether a pregnancy resulted from the act.
It’s important to note that Maryland doesn’t have so-called “Romeo and Juliet laws.” These laws provide exemptions if two people who have consensual sex are close in age, but one is over the age of consent and one is under or if both are under 16. A statutory rape charge could potentially carry a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A person can be charged with statutory rape even if no force or coercion was involved, unlike other rape charges. The reasoning is that anyone who is under the designated age can’t legally give consent to sex.
Sometimes, parents have been known to charge their daughter’s boyfriend with statutory rape because they disapprove of the relationship. Whatever, the situation, if your child is charged with this crime, it’s essential to take it seriously and get experienced legal guidance. A statutory rape charge can follow a young person for the rest of his or her life.
Source: FindLaw, “Statutory Rape,” accessed July 26, 2017