Statutory rape laws are based on the age of consent, meaning the age at which legislators feel a person can reasonably consent to participate in a sexual act. The age of consent varies from state to state – in some states it’s 18, in others it’s 14. In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16. This means that any adult (a person over the age of 18) cannot have sexual relations with a person under the age of 16, even if it is consensual. This is because North Carolina feels that a 16 year old is incapable of making that type of informed decision. Those that break this law have broken the state’s statutory rape law. Statutory rape is differentiated from forcible rape in that it is not necessarily considered a violent act. If the sexual activity was by force and was non-consensual, then the person can be charged with first or second degree rape rather than statutory rape.
Penalties for Statutory Rape in North Carolina
Penalties for statutory rape vary based on multiple factors, such as the age of the victim, the age of the perpetrator, the conduct that occurred, and the perpetrator’s previous criminal history. The range of statutory rape charges are:
Indecent Liberties With a Minor – Any person being 16 years of age or more and at least five years older than the child in question takes or attempts to take immoral, improper or indecent liberties or commits a sexual act with a child under the age of 16.
Indecent Liberties Between Children – Any person under the age of 16 that willfully takes or attempts to take immoral, improper, or indecent liberties or commits a sexual act with a child at least three years younger.
First Degree Rape – Vaginal intercourse between a minor who is 12 or younger, and a defendant who is 12 or older and at least four years older than the victim.
First Degree Sexual Offense – Oral or anal intercourse, or penetration with on object or body part other than the penis, between a minor who is 12 or younger, and a defendant who is 12 or older and at least four years older than the victim.
Statutory Rape of a Person Who Is 13, 14, or 15 – Vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse between a minor who is 13, 14, or 15 and a defendant who is at least four years older than the victim.
The majority of these crimes are felonies and some of them require inclusion in the sex offender registry for at least 1o years. If you are facing a statutory rape or indecent liberties charge, this is a very serious matter that can result in significant jail time. It is critical that you contact a sex offense lawyer as quickly as possible to guide you through the process. Many of these cases begin with an investigation prior to charges being filed. It is in your best interest to engage a lawyer prior speaking with law enforcement so that you do not make statements that could negatively impact you.