Age of Consent

Age of Consent

Age of consent is the legal term referring to the age at which a person can enter a contact or an agreement.  The age of consent also refers to the age at which a person is considered able to legally consent to sexual activities.  Prior to the age of consent, an individual cannot legally engage in sexual activity with anyone.  The law states that all parties engaging in sexual activity must be over the age of consent.  There are a number of factors which influence the age of consent in a given situation.  Age of consent laws exist to protect minors from sexual exploitation by adults or older individuals.  The age of consent is different in every country and can vary greatly from place to place.

Every US state also has a different set of laws regarding the age of consent.  The age of consent in each state is contingent upon a number of factors such as the type of sexual activity in question, the relationship between the two parties, the age and sex of both parties, and other specifics.  Different states have different laws regarding what types of activities a person is prohibited from prior to the age of consent.  In most states, a person must be at the age of consent in order to have sexual intercourse.   The majority of US states have made sixteen the age of consent, though some state’s age of consent is seventeen or eighteen. 

Age of consent laws also apply to homosexuals, though the age of consent may be slightly different for these individuals.  Individuals who are married may not be subject to age of consent laws in some states.  Age of consent may be different when relations involve an adult who has a supervisory role over the minor, such as a teacher, coach, instructor, and the like. The age of consent may also depend on the ages of the involved parties.  For example, in a place where the age of consent is eighteen, an eighteen year old may not be prosecuted for having relations with a seventeen year old, though a 25 year old in the same situation may be prosecuted.  Because the laws vary by place and circumstance, an individual should check the laws that apply in their state and case. 

Statutory rape is the crime of engaging in sexual activity with a person who has not yet reached the age of consent.  Even if the activities are consensual, the adult can still be charged with statutory rape if the other party is younger than the age of consent.  There are a number of other acts that are prohibited between an adult and a person younger than the age of consent.  It is unlawful to show pornography to a minor or entice or abet a minor to engage in pornographic activities prior to the age of consent.  It is also unlawful to give a minor drugs or alcohol prior to the age of consent. 

The criminal severity of statutory rape will often depend on the facts of the case and the state where the crime took place.  Engaging in relations with a person before they’ve reached the age of consent is a criminal offense which may be prosecuted as a felony or a lesser crime.  If you have questions about the age of consent, please contact us to speak with a qualified attorney who can evaluate your case to determine how to protect your rights and interests. 

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