What Is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape is illegal sexual activity between two people when it would otherwise be legal if not for their age

In accordance with the FBI definition, statutory rape is characterized as non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is younger than the statutory age of consent. The actual ages for these laws vary greatly from state-to-state, as do the punishments for offenders.

Many states do not use the actual term "statutory rape," simply calling it rape or unlawful sexual penetration among a variety of other titles. These laws rarely apply only to intercourse, but rather to any type of sexual contact.

Dating someone without sexual contact cannot be considered a form of statutory rape, and is almost never illegal. All states have an "age of consent," or an age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity and can then no longer be a victim of statutory rape.

Some states also have laws that take into consideration the "age difference" between both people involved. In many states, the more years there are between the adult and the minor, the more serious the offense. All states have laws with special consideration and age restrictions where a relationship involves a person of authority over a minor; this includes but is not limited to, teachers, coaches, assistant coaches, or tutors.

Generally, the age of consent is 18 in these situations and the penalties for violation of these laws are more severe. These laws change, and can vary depending on other circumstances. For more information on how these laws apply in your state, visit the Answer Board

Statutory rape charges can be reported and filed by the victim, parents of the victim, professionals in mandatory reporting situations, and in most states they can be raised by the state. California has been a primary example of this filing charges against fathers of pregnant women who are, or were, minors at the time of conception and doing it at the protest of both the women and the parents of the involved parties.

The term "Age of Consent" is a term not found in many state statutes, but rather reflects an absence of prohibition. As used on this website, the "Age of Consent" reflects the age at which a person can no longer be a victim of statutory rape; or, the age at which a person may legally consent to most types of sexual activity with another person. This age varies from 14-18 in all states in the USA with over half the states adopting the age of “16” as the legal age of consent.

There are still restrictions in some states on what type of sexual activity is permissible, such as oral sex and sodomy, as well as restrictions on the relationship of the two people involved, for example a teacher-student relationship. These restrictions typically run until the age of 18, though some states still have laws against oral sex or sodomy at any age. There are also differences in the severity of criminal offense based on the age difference between the adult and the minor.

We strongly encourage anyone who is in need of legal advice concerning statutory rape charges or any other criminal charges to contact your district attorney or a local private attorney as soon as possible. A screening service is available through "LegalMatch.com" allows you to post your case anonymously and respond only to prescreened lawyers who meet your legal needs and want to help you. There is no obligation to respond. It's Free, Confidential and Nationwide.
Find more useful tips and information in our posted article "Interview an Attorney".

Help!! My Teen Wants to Begin Dating

Author: Aurelia Williams

Ah, dating. It’s a part of every teen’s life. It’s also a source of stress for most parents when their child reaches this pivotal point. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are a few tips to help you keep the fear at bay when your teenager starts dating.

Age: More than a Number: Just because it seems like every other parent on the planet is letting their teen date, doesn’t mean you have to. Especially if your teen isn’t ready. Keep an eye out for signs that your teen is really ready to date. Dating shouldn’t be based on age alone. Take into consideration maturity and not just physical maturity. Emotional and mental maturity is more important when your teen starts dating.

Open Communication: Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your teen and be honest about your feelings. Listen to their feelings as well. You might be surprised to find that they are just as scared as you are. Also, don’t immediately go off the deep end the first time you hear the phrase “Check her out!” or “He’s hot!” Be there for your teen when they experience the good and the bad of their dating experiences.

Groups Dates: If you are uncomfortable letting your teen go on a one on one date, try letting them go with a group the first few times. Even if the group is split up in pairs, it still allows your teen to feel like he/she fits in, but you’ll have the safety of knowing that it’s not just your teen against one other if something were to go wrong. Public places, such as bowling alleys or miniature golf courses are a great option for group dates. Take a little time to get to know who your teen is hanging out with.

Respect all Around: Teach your teen to respect the opposite sex long before they begin dating. Remember, they can’t respect someone else before they respect themselves. Make sure your teen truly respects him/her before allowing them to date.

Rules: Set rules before your teen begins dating and stick with them. The days of courting and getting permission may be gone, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know who your teen is with, where they are going, how they are getting there, and when they’ll be home. Set a curfew that you feel comfortable with and keep in mind any laws in your area when doing so. Just because your town’s curfew may be midnight, doesn’t mean your teen should stay out that late if you aren’t comfortable with it. However, an 8 o’clock curfew won’t go over well at all and will likely lead to rebellion from your teen at some point. Find a happy medium that you are both comfortable with.

Need more free tips on parenting teenagers? Parenting My Teen Podcast discusses this and other teen issues parents face. You can also pick up the Parenting My Teen Oath while you're there.