Age of consent In many jurisdictions, the age of consent is interpreted to mean mental or functional age. Consensual teenage sex is common in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that there are more than 7 million incidents of statutory rape every year.
However, it is clear that most incidents are not prosecuted and do not lead to arrests and convictions. It is generally intended to punish heinous cases of an adult taking sexual advantage of a minor. Thus, many jurisdictions prohibit allowing a juvenile to be tried as an adult under this law most jurisdictions have separate provisions for child molestation or forcible rape which can be applied to juveniles and for which a minor can be tried as an adult.
Some jurisdictions also specify a minimum difference in age in order for the offense to be applicable. Under such terms, if the adult is, for instance, less than three years older than the minor, no crime has been committed or the penalty is far less severe. These are called "Romeo and Juliet" clauses. Rationale of statutory rape laws[ edit ] Statutory rape laws are based on the premise that an individual is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse until that person reaches a certain age.
The law mandates that even if he or she willingly engages in sexual intercourse, the sex is not consensual. By making it illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor, statutory rape laws aim to give the minor some protection against adults in a position of power over the youth. Because forced sexual intercourse with a minor is considered a particularly heinous form of rape, these laws relieve the prosecution of the burden to prove lack of consent.
This makes conviction more frequent in cases involving minors. This rationale aims to preserve the marriageability of the girl and to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancy. Adolescent sexuality Often, teenage couples engage in sexual conduct as part of an intimate relationship.
This may occur before either participant has reached the age of consent, or after one has but the other has not. In the latter case, in most jurisdictions, the person who has reached the age of consent is guilty of statutory rape. In some jurisdictions such as California and Michigan , if two minors have sex with each other, they are both guilty of engaging in unlawful sex with the other person.
Some jurisdictions have passed so-called "Romeo and Juliet laws", which serve to reduce or eliminate the penalty of the crime in cases where the couple's age difference is minor and the sexual contact would not have been rape if both partners were legally able to give consent. Rephrasing the definition of the offense itself to completely exclude situations where the difference in age is less than a specific time period.
Providing an affirmative defense to statutory rape based on the small difference in the participants' ages, or on evidence of a pre-existing sexual relationship between the accused and the perceived victim that did not constitute statutory rape. Reducing the severity of the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor , which prevents loss of civil rights and reduces available penalties.
Reducing the penalty in such cases to a fine, probation or community service. Eliminating the requirement that the convicted participant register as a sex offender , or reducing the duration of such registration from life to one, five or ten years.
Allowing a convicted party to petition for expungement after serving any adjudged sentence. Such laws generally apply to a couple whose ages differ by less than a specified number of years. This is normally accomplished by making acts involving these circumstances separate crimes to which the "Romeo and Juliet" defense does not apply. An example is Texas Penal Code, Section It provides an affirmative defense to a charge of sexual assault if all of the following apply: Sex differences in statutory rape[ edit ] Female on male statutory rape[ edit ] Until the late s, sex involving an adult female and an underage male was often ignored by the law, due to the belief that it is often sexual initiation for the younger male.
While in contrast, women who were involved with adult men when they were minors mainly showed negative reactions once they left the relationship. That is, they had come to view the adult men as perverts who could not find willing partners their own age so they resorted to exploiting young, naive girls. In County of San Luis Obispo v. The court stated the boy was "not an innocent victim" of the sexual intercourse. For example, in Kansas , if someone 18 or older has sex with a minor no more than four years younger, a Romeo and Juliet law limits the penalty substantially.
As written, however, this law did not apply to same-sex couples, leaving them subject to higher penalties than opposite-sex couples for the same offense. Resulting in higher statutory rape convictions, larger fines, and sex offender registration for teens in the LGBTQ community.
Supreme Court rulings Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Limon invalidated age of consent laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation in Kansas.
A minor can also be guilty for sexual contact with another minor section 13 , but the Explanatory Notes state that decisions whether to prosecute in cases where both parties are minors are to be taken on a case by case basis.
In Scotland , the Sexual Offences Scotland Act also fixes an age of consent of 16, and is also two tiered, treating children under 13 differently than children 13— Section 18, Rape of a young child, applies to children under Which translates roughly to: In determining the penalty, it shall be an aggravating circumstance if the perpetrator has gained intercourse by exploiting their physical or mental superiority.
If the offender has gained intercourse by coercion or threats, the penalty may increased to imprisonment for up to 12 years. The Netherlands[ edit ] Article A person who, with a person younger than twelve years, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body, will be punished with imprisonment up to twelve years or a fine up to that of the fifth category.
Article A person who, out of wedlock, with a person who has reached the age of twelve but has not reached sixteen years, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is liable to a term of imprisonment up to eight years or a fine up to that of the fifth category.
Article , dealing with sex with persons between 12 and 16 years, only applies outside of marriage, however a marriage with someone under 16 requires authorization from the Minister of Justice, which can only be obtained if there are "compelling reasons" for such a marriage. Sexual penetration is not only sexual intercourse. The object doesn't even necessarily have to be a penis or another body part.
Giving cunnilingus, receiving fellatio and active French kissing can be considered rape as well. A fine is seldom given to a case of severe crimes, such as statutory rape.
In nearly all cases the committer is condemned to prison. Fines are divided into categories. The higher number the category is, the higher is the fine. If the other is minor, it is statutory rape.
The maximum punishment depends on whether the victim is younger than 12 years then it is up to 12 years imprisonment or older than 12 years the imprisonment will be up to 8 years.
Current issues[ edit ] While there is broad support for the concept of statutory rape as criminal in the United States, there is substantial debate on how vigorously such cases should be pursued and under what circumstances. On June 2, the Irish Supreme Court upheld an appeal by the state against the release of one such person, "Mr.
A was rearrested shortly afterwards to continue serving his sentence.