Statutory rape is not a new concept; no, it is something that has been around for many years. Ever since the Middle Ages in fact, you may be astounded to find, statutory rape laws have been put in place to protect those who are young from a crime that can affect them for the rest of their lives. In these laws, it is recognized that a pedophile preys on children who are still innocent and are unable to form the understanding of what is happening to them because they lack the necessary judgment. Statutory rape is unfortunately committed on both females and males, even though society typically only focuses on girls as the victims in many situations. So, what is statutory rape as a crime?
Understanding Statutory Rape
This type of crime refers to the sex that somebody has with another person who is considered to be underage. State laws will specify the age statute and how young is “too young” in terms of who is able to have sex with someone. The crime itself is widely controversial because the offender’s age is sometimes very close to the victim’s; however, they are still unable to give consent if it is just a year shy. To understand these laws, you must first understand the “Age of Consent.” This varies from state to state, however. Many states set the age to 16 years old, while others set it to 17 or 18.
The Level of Offense and How This is Affected
Sometimes, statutory rape will involve a misdemeanor, and other times it will be considered a felony. However, you must look at the factors involved in this decision: the age of the victim, and the age difference between the victim and the perpetrator. Of course, then you must consider the situation and factors involved such as whether or not there were prior sex offenses by the offender, whether drugs or alcohol were involved, and whether or not pregnancy resulted from the rape offense.
Some states have made it a rule that harsher penalties will be imposed when the offender is a certain number of years older than the victim. Other states consider that, if the perpetrator is over 21, this constitutes a higher offense right off the bat because they “should have known better.”
“Romeo and Juliet” Laws
Then we have situations where all participants in the sexual acts were below the age of consent: How are these cases handled? These statutes fall under something known as “Romeo and Juliet” Laws. These laws only involve individuals who are close in age and deal widely with the consequences of the actions involved. Of course, not all states have adopted these laws and they act differently from state to state. In some states, these laws will shift the offense to a lower level and differentiate between punishments, such as receiving probation instead of jail time.
California law states that, “Anyone who engages in an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under age 18 and the actor is not more than three years older or three years younger, is guilty of a misdemeanor. If the person is under age 18 and more than three years younger than the actor, they may receive a felony. This also applies to a situation where the actor is over 21 and the minor is under 16. In California, the penalties can be quite harsh of county jail time of up to one year or in state prison for up to four years!
Have you committed a crime and now you need help with your legal case? Call The Law Offices of Peter Blair today for more information on what steps you can take in your case. We will help you every step of the way.