The Age of Consent: What It Means and Why It Matters

Did you know that if an adult engages in sexual activity with a person below the age of consent for the state they live in, they are committing a serious crime even if the victim says they agreed to the act?

It is necessary to know what is age of consent since a person can get charged with statutory rape. This can happen even if both parties agree to engage in sexual activity. Here is everything you need to know about the age of consent and why it matters.

What Is Age of Consent?

Age of consent is a legal way of describing a person’s age before they can consent to sexual activities. This information is significant because the age difference between two people will ultimately decide how severe the statutory rape charges should be if there is a conviction.

Consent means that you can freely agree to engage in sexual activities. However, not everyone can give consent. If someone is asleep or intoxicated, if they are physically, developmentally, or mentally disabled, they cannot provide consent.

Anyone younger than the age of consent in their state can also not give consent that would be accepted lawfully. Although consent is defined in different ways depending on your state, it usually means that the person needs to clearly state that they want to have sex.

Some people cannot consent if they are in a coercive relationship, pressured to engage in acts they do not want to. Finally, a person must be able to think and understand the situation clearly to consent to sexual activity.

Exemption Laws

Some of the heavily controversial age of consent cases happen between people who are usually very close in age. This occurs when one is below the age of consent while the other may only be a little older.

However, it is in the interest of justice to ensure that the older person in these cases does not get on the sex offender registry.

This is a classic example of close-in-age exemption laws geared toward young adults who engage in intercourse with someone slightly under the age of consent.

However, this applies when both parties are nearly the same age. For example, if someone over 17 in Texas has intercourse with another person who is under that age, the older person may not be charged with statutory rape.

They can also avoid going on the registry. In these cases, being so close in age is a mitigating factor instead of an entire legal defense. Keep in mind that not every state has close-in-age exemption laws.

So, it is still possible for someone to get charged with statutory rape even if they are slightly older than the person they had intercourse with.

Statutory Rape Laws

Statutory rape is a crime committed when an adult engages in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent. Since the younger person cannot consent legally, the older person can be charged.

It is essential to know that statutory rape does not need to involve coercion or any force. Remember that even two teenage lovers can end up in trouble with the law if their state does not have close in age exemption laws.

While the law in each state is different, it is typically illegal for anyone older than 18 to have sex with someone under the age of consent. If the age of consent in your state is 16, engaging in any sexual activity with a minor under that age would be considered a severe crime.

Age of Consent Lowered

Even though the age of consent laws can seem like a technicality, they are necessary for a reason. This is because age and experience often create a power imbalance. This makes it more challenging for the younger person to give sexual consent freely.

Teenagers can make mistakes because they lack the decision-making ability and maturity that grown-ups have. A person’s youth can impact their ability to consent.

Therefore, the laws need to be tough to protect minors. It is no secret that teenagers can and do consensually have sex with each other. This is why some states have exceptions to their statutory rape laws.

Some states can also say that teenagers under 15 cannot provide consent to intercourse with someone who is more than 4 years older than them.

Limits like these can seem arbitrary, but they serve a crucial purpose in protecting children from those who may prey on their inexperience and youth.

Legal Support

Being accused of charges related to sexual assault can be scary. They can significantly damage a person’s career and reputation, especially if the complainant is below the age of consent.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to speak to a defense lawyer. They can provide the best approach and advice in these severe circumstances. You may also need legal support to put together character references and other pieces of evidence to present to a judge.

If you do not accept the allegations, it will be critical to prepare a robust defense when the case goes to court. Going through a criminal trial can be overwhelming and emotionally draining.

Having an expert legal team on your side can make or break your case. Here is where you can learn more about statutory rape lawyer options in your state to ensure you get the best attorney to prepare your defense.

Hire a Lawyer Today

Now that you know everything about what is age of consent, it is time to find the best lawyers in your area. Remember that consent applies to anyone who cannot engage in sex freely.

This can be regardless of age, but minors must be protected from those who prey on their innocence.

With some legal support, you can present evidence more clearly to explain the situation, which might help reduce some charges. If you enjoyed reading this legal guide, check out our other posts for more information.

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