As a parent, this may be a scenario you never imagined occurring. Your child, a teenage high school student, has been dating another student a couple of years their junior. Your child is a good kid, gets good grades, and has never been in trouble with the law. Then out of the blue, the police knock on your door and place your child under arrest for the statutory rape of a minor.
After the initial shock and disbelief, you finally get a chance to talk to your child. They admit that sexual intercourse did take place with their partner but insist that it was consensual. This is confirmed by your child’s partner. However, under many state laws, engaging in sexual conduct with a minor who is under the age of consent is considered a criminal act.
If you’ve found yourself in this scenario, then you may be feeling bewildered and frightened for your child. You may be struggling to comprehend how a teenager, who isn’t even a legal adult, can be facing charges like this. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions regarding statutory rape charges, which will help you to understand the situation more clearly.
How Can It Be Rape When Both Teens Willingly Participated?
The common understanding of the term rape is the act of sexual intercourse when the victim hasn’t given their consent for it to take place. The charge of statutory rape occurs when the victim is under the legal age of consent and therefore is not able to provide consent to the act in the eyes of the law. The age of consent varies from state to state and ranges from fourteen to eighteen years of age.
They’re Both Minors, So How Can It Be a Criminal Act?
In many states, exemptions known as “Romeo and Juliet laws” exist, which state that minors who are close in age won’t be prosecuted for statutory rape if one of the parties is under the age of consent. However, in many other states, no such exemptions are in place. This means that the older party can still be charged with statutory rape. In a few rare cases, both parties have even faced statutory rape charges.
Will My Child Go To Prison?
The penalties for statutory rape vary in severity from state to state. A guilty verdict can result in a prison sentence, a suspended sentence, or a financial penalty. If your child is a minor who has no previous sexual misconduct convictions, it’s unlikely that they will serve any time in prison.
Do We Need To Hire A Lawyer?
Even though there is a strong likelihood that a defendant in this scenario won’t receive a prison sentence, this outcome is by no means guaranteed. Criminal Sexual Conduct is a very serious charge and requires legal defense from a lawyer who is well-versed in your state’s laws regarding sexual crime.
Defending statutory rape charges isn’t easy, and there is a high rate of conviction for these offenses in comparison to other crimes. Your lawyer can help you to recognize whether a solid defense is possible and to negotiate a plea bargain and achieve a minimal punitive outcome if a guilty charge is inevitable.
If this nightmare scenario has become reality for you and your child, then getting the right legal counsel is the first and most important task to attend to.
The team at Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices has extensive experience in providing defense against statutory rape charges. They have excellent knowledge of the relevant Sexual Crime laws and will work with you and your child to achieve the best outcome possible.
Contact us to discuss your situation and to ask any further questions you may have about your child’s situation.