Finding a Way Out of a Statutory Rape Charge

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Statutory Rape Charge | 0 comments

Going online to find women willing to meet and have sex with you is totally inappropriate behavior, says a Michigan judge who convicted a 19-year old male Indiana teen of a sex offense and ordered him to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years.

The male teen’s crime was have consensual sex with a 14-year old girl who he had met on “Hot or Not,” a dating app. The girl, besides registering on the dating app’s adults section, also lied about her age, saying that she was 17 years old. Lying about her age and testifying in court about this lie did not save the male teen from conviction, though, since the state of Michigan does not provide an automatic defense (for statutory rape charges) based on false info on age.

As regards the male teen, the effects of being convicted of a sex offense does not only include mandatory jail sentences, fines, probation, mandated treatment services, and registering as sex offender, but also keeping a 1,000-foot minimum distance from public areas where there may be children, being home before 8 p.m. every night and prohibition to: own a smartphone or use the Internet; and talk to anyone younger than 17, other than members of immediate family – all of these he should observe for the next five years.

There are people who would argue that a person should be responsible in confirming the age of his/her sexual partner, since it is possible that his/her sexual partner may be under the age of consent. But how should one confirm his/her sexual partner’s age besides ask him/her? Ask for his/her driver’s license or ID? How can one even spot a fake ID?

It is clear, though, that verifying a prospective partner’s age is necessary, if one does not want to be charged with statutory rape, despite the sexual act being consensual. This is because statutory rape laws make sexual intercourse even between willing partners illegal if one of the participants is below the age of consent since this will make such partner incapable of knowingly consenting to the sexual act, appreciating the impact of the act, and knowing its possible consequence.

Though states vary with regard to the age of consent, or the age at which a person can legally agree to engage in a sex act, its range is from 16 to 18. However, to save many teens from statutory rape prosecution and conviction, some states have a provision, called the “Romeo and Juliet” law. This law allows those under the age of consent to legally consent to sex depending on the age difference between the partners (some states allow only up to two years difference, while other states allow a difference of up to four years) .

While statutory rape statutes only intend to protect minors from sexual predators, it cannot be denied that these statutes have unintended consequences due to many legal gray areas. As a result, many have been (and continue to be) convicted and ordered to register as sex offenders; this very likely means ruined lives.

As explained by the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, ‘although the U.S. justice system holds that individuals are innocent until proven guilty, many individuals charged with sex crimes find that this is not the way that they are treated, as those around them, and even family members and friends, may jump to conclusions based solely on the accusations made against them. Therefore, knowing how difficult it can be for anyone to face a sex crime charge, having an aggressive legal team for his/her defense might be able to have charges reduced or even dismissed altogether.

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