Statutory Rape Law & Legal Definition


Statutory rape is sex between an adult and a minor below the age of consent. Every state has a statutory rape law in some form. The age of consent varies from state to state, but is generally from 16 - 18 years of age. Many state statutes also specify a minimum age of the perpetrator or an age differential (as at least four years) between the perpetrator and the victim. Consent of the victim and belief that the victim is of the age of consent are usually considered immaterial.

Some of the issues statutory rape laws are designed to prevent include:

* Sexual coercion and abuse of the child involved
* Increased rates of teenage pregnancy
* Increased rates of fatherlessness
* Higher rates of child poverty and welfare dependency.

The California State Assembly recently passed a bill which would add penalties of up to five years in jail for statutory rape when a minor becomes pregnant. This penalty can be sought in addition to civil and/or criminal suits for statutory rape. Criminal charges may be a reason supporting denying a father's parental rights.

The following is an example of a state law dealing with statutory rape:

2907.04. Unlawful sexual conduct with minor.

  1. No person who is eighteen years of age or older shall engage in sexual conduct with another, who is not the spouse of the offender, when the offender knows the other person is thirteen years of age or older but less than sixteen years of age, or the offender is reckless in that regard.
  2. Whoever violates this section is guilty of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
  1. Except as otherwise provided in divisions (B)(2), (3), and (4) of this section, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a felony of the fourth degree.
  2. Except as otherwise provided in division (B)(4) of this section, if the offender is less than four years older than the other person, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  3. Except as otherwise provided in division (B)(4) of this section, if the offender is ten or more years older than the other person, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a felony of the third degree.
  4. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2907.02, 2907.03, or 2907.04 of the Revised Code or a violation of former section 2907.12 of the Revised Code, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a felony of the second degree.