We've received more questions about statutory rape concerning age-gap
distinctions, so I'll try to answer what I didn't cover in the previous
article on statutory rape.
Now, I'm not a lawyer; I'm a web wonk. Please
do NOT use this page as legal advice.
PS: If you have a question on the strictly legal aspects of underage
sex, ask the folks at www.Sexlaws.org
If a minor has sex with a minor
for example: a 17 year guy having sex with a 17 year old girl
is that statutory rape since they are both of "legal"
age to have sex?
female, age 17, USA
If both people having consensual sex are the same age, it's
not statutory rape.
But it may be confusing to some people about the term "minor"
and the concept of when it is "legal" to have sex. "Age
of consent" and "age of majority" are sometimes legally
distinct, depending on where you live:
- Age of consent means the age at which you can legally consent
to having sex.
- Age of majority is the age at which you can enter into legal
agreements and transactions.
Those below the age of majority are usually called "minors".
Those below the age of consent are usually called "under the
age of consent."
I am 16 and I am dating an 18 year
old. We both live in California. If we had sex would it be unlawful?
I read that as long as there is no
more than 3 years' difference, it is legal. Is this true?
female, age 16, USA
It is illegal to have sex with him, because the age
of consent in California is 18.
If someone were to press charges against him for statutory rape,
the two years' age difference would make him guilty of a misdemeanor,
which carries lesser penalties than If he were three years older,
when it would be a felony.
I am currently 17 and my girlfriend
is 16. We have our birthdays on the same day which is March 25.
I will be turning 18 and she will turn 17.
Can anyone besides her call Statutory
Rape on me including her parents? I have read the penal codes and
they are confusing so I thought I would ask you about it.
Could you please tell me everything
and maybe show me laws to give me a little more confidence?
Thank you very much.
male, age 17, California
It seems arbitrary that sex with your girlfriend becomes illegal
when you reach your eighteenth birthday, but it's true. Anyone can
press charges against you for statutory rape in California, because
she will still be younger than 18. If you are convicted, however,
California law will count it as a misdemeanor,
and not a felony,
because you are less than three years older than she is.
I can't tell you "everything" because I don't know everything,
but I researched
the relevant California penal codes at AgeofConsent.com. A lawyer
or your local District Attorney could answer any more questions
Although your case makes statutory rape laws seem arbitrary, a
story from one of our
readers illustrates why the law might protect someone underage
from being exploited.
My younger brother got involved in
a serious relationship when he was 17. The girl was 15. The relationship
progressed and he (obviously) turned 18 and she 16. They had consentual
sex throughout the relationship and got pregnant.
They moved from Texas to Florida
and tried living together but broke up. Now she's moving back to
Texas. Now he's going to be 20 and she, 18. Can she still sue for
female, age 21, Texas, USA
She or anyone else can press charges against him for statutory
rape because the
age of consent in Texas is 17. But Texas has an "affirmative
defense to prosecution" clause, tried in 1999, which may
consider the act "not a criminal offense" because he is
less than three years older than she is.
She can sue him, however, for damages caused by physical, mental
and psycholgical distress from having to endure a sexual relationship,
a pregnancy, a major move, and maybe motherhood, adoption, or abortion
(you didn't specify what they did about her pregnancy) while being
I am a 21 year old female. When I
was 18 years old I was dating a 14 year old and my mother told me
that even if we were just dating it was considered statutory rape.
His mother knew that we were dating
and didn't care. We are both Christians and we do not believe in
premarital sex. We just wanted a relationship that was strictly
just spending time together and sharing our days.
Now I am 21 years old and I like
a 17 year old Christian. I want to know if just dating him is illegal
or if my mom was just trying to scare me because she didn't like
the other guy.
Confused in Kansas
feamle, age 21, USA
Dear Confused in Kansas,
Dating (without sex) is legal regardless of your age. Dating is
not statutory rape.
Your mother might have been scaring you because she is alarmed
that you show a pattern of dating children when you're supposed
to be an adult.
I live in Maine, and I'm a little
confused about the statutory rape laws.
Is it legal for a 16 year old to
be with a 23 year old?
female, age 16, USA
Dear Not Sure,
Anyone can "be" with anyone else, regardless of age;
it's a Constitutional right (known as "the right of the people
peaceably to assemble") given to Americans in the First
And if you're asking about sex, the age of consent in Maine is
16, and therefore it is legal (but not advisable, in my opinion)
for a 16 year old to have sex with a 23 year old.
In many other American states, it would be illegal.
Me and this guy have been talking
and we really like each other, but I am 17 and he is 25.
Should that matter?
What do I do?
female, age 17
If you are a teenager, age will always matter!
During this time in your life, milestones like
- driving permits,
- driver's licenses,
- work permits,
- watching R-rated movies,
- enlisting in the military,
- drinking alcohol,
- gambling, and
- buying lottery tickets, tobacco products, adult magazines, or
depend on your age. You will change and mature as
you pass those milestones and deal with the temptations those milestones
A 25-year old has already passed those milestones,
and he is probably exposed to many situations that you are not legally
ready to experience.
And if you're below the age of consent, sex with someone
your age could land him in to jail. If he is known to be alone with
you while you are dating, he may be vulnerable to charges and allegations
of statutory rape.
You should find out the statutory
rape laws for your area, and proceed with caution. Don't let
him manipulate you!
What do you think of this Answer?