Statutory Rape Laws and Exceptions

People who are below their states’ legal ages of consent cannot legally have sexual interaction with a person who is above the legal age of consent. A person who is of legal age that has sexual contact with a person below the age of consent may be charged with statutory rape.

Unlike other forms of rape, statutory rape may not be forced, and the accused individual may not have coerced the other person into sexual activity. Additionally, an individual may be guilty of statutory rape even if he or she does not have sexual intercourse with the other person.

Statutory Rape Laws

Individuals cannot legally have sexual contact with an individual who is not of age. The legal age of consent may vary by state. For instance, the legal age of consent in Texas is 17. Some states have a legal age of consent as low as 14 while other states have a legal age of consent of 18.

An individual who has sexual contact with a person below the age of consent may face punishment. Sexual contact may include:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Mutual masturbation
  • Oral sex

In general, sexual contact is considered any act intended to arouse another person. As such, an individual may be found guilty of statutory rape even if he or she did not have sexual intercourse with a minor.

Exceptions to Statutory Rape Laws

Though statutory rape laws make it illegal for individuals to have sexual relationships with people below the age of consent, some exceptions do exist. Generally, these exceptions include:

  • The individuals are within a certain number of years of one another
  • The individuals dated before one was above the age of consent
  • The younger individual is within so many months of being at the age of consent

These rules may not apply in all circumstances, so individuals should contact a legal authority to learn more about their legal rights regarding relationships with minors.

Punishment for Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is usually considered a felony offense, so an individual who is found guilty of the crime may face several years in prison. In Texas, for example, the crime is a second-degree felony, so an individual may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Contact Us

Statutory rape charges may be unfounded in some cases, so you may be able to lessen your punishment or avoid it all together. Please contact the Dallas criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices Mark T. Lassiter, P.C., at (214) 845-7007 for more information.

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