Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge

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The crime of statutory rape occurs when an individual that is of age to be considered an adult has sexual intercourse with another individual that has been deemed by law to young to give consent or those that are mentally and /or physically handicapped.   A defendant can also be convicted of statutory rape if he or she is a minor that is a number of years older than the person he or she had sexual intercourse with.  Violence and force will not be necessary to be found guilty of statutory rape. The crime of statutory rape will be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the age of the minor child and the particular jurisdictions law.

Defenses to Statutory Rape

There are certain defenses that a defendant will be able to allege if he or she is charged with statutory rape.  If a defendant can successfully assert his or her defense, then all criminal liability will be absolved.  It is important to note that various jurisdictions will have differing laws about which defenses are available for a defendant to plead.  Common defenses to statutory rape are:

  • Peer sex exemption where a minor can plead their age and its proximity to that of the person they engaged in intercourse with.
  • Mistake of fact occurs when a defendant truly believes that the minor child is actually of age of consent. There must be reasonable grounds for this belief.
  • Mental Incapacity or Insanity
  • Rape by fraud is relatively new, similar to mistake of fact, except it alleges that a minor set out with intent to have sexual intercourse with an adult
  • Duress, which occurs where the defendant was under physical compulsion under fear for his or her life.

Seeking Legal Advice

The charge of statutory rape is a  serious one, and if an individual is convicted it can have life long consequences on where you can live and even your job prospects. If you are arrested for statutory rape you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in your state immediately.  Only an experienced attorney  will have knowledge of any available defenses to a statutory rape charge and can assert these in court of law.

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