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Age of Consent Laws

The minimum age when a person is able to legally consent to sexual relations with another person is referred to as the “age of consent”. This should not be confused with marriageable age, voting age, drinking age, etc. The minimum age for sexual consent varies from state to state and is usually between 16 to 18 years old. Laws may also vary according to the gender of the actors, the type of sexual acts, and also issues regarding abusing the position of trust. In the United States, sexual relations with a minor is considered a criminal offence with changes ranging from misdemeanor to statutory rape. Since the age of consent restricts a minor from consenting, obtaining consent cannot be used as defense for sexual relations with a minor. Below are some of the top questions on the subject answered by Legal Experts.

In the case of joint custody of a 16-year-old, can one parent legally restrict the other from allowing the child to have sex?

If the child has reached legal age of consent as per the laws in your state, there would be no crime if the sex was consensual. However, as a parent, if you are concerned that this may not be in the best interests of your child, you may file for custody modifications in which you argue that it may not be appropriate for a minor to have sex, even at the age of consent. You could seek full custody of the child on grounds of child neglect.

If a 34-year-old man impregnates a 16-year-old, what legal recourse do the parents of the young girl have in North Carolina?

Since the legal age of consent in North Carolina is 16 years of age, the court may order that the father of the child pay child support. He may also have to pay for some of the medical expenses incurred during pregnancy and child birth. Should the 16-year-old choose to terminate the pregnancy, the father will not be obliged to compensate. Also, he may only be obliged to support the baby and not the 16-year-old child .

Is it illegal for a girl of 13 years and a boy of 15 years to have sex in Pennsylvania?

Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania statutes legally allows individuals between the ages of 13 and 16 to have sexual intercourse with those between the ages 13 and 17. However, for the act to be considered illegal even with consent, the complainant must be 13 years old and the actor not more than 4 years older. In the case of children under 13 years of age, charges of indecent assault dealing with improper contact with a minor may be brought against the actor.

As the age of consent in Rhode Island is 16 years, is it safe to assume that it is legal for a 25-year-old can have sexual relations with a 17-year-old?

The age of consent in Rhode Island may be 16 years, making it legal to have consensual sex with someone who is 17. However, should the 16-year-old changes his/her mind about having had sexual relations with a 25-year-old adult, he/she may be able to charge that person with raping a minor.

My 13-year-old daughter is dating a 20-year-old man. What legal recourse do I have in Montana?

The legal age of consent in Montana is 16 years and a child younger than that may not consent to sex unless legally married to the person with whom he or she is having sex. Having said that, a 13-year-old may legally date a 20-year-old man. If you wish to prove that the latter is violating the law, you will have to establish that there is sexual relationship between your child and the older man. If the charges are proved, the man could be charged with statutory rape. In case you are unable to prove that intercourse or penetration occurred, the man may be charged with sexual abuse of a minor. The defense to statutory rape in which the perpetrator reasonably believed that the minor was 16 years old applies in cases in which the child 14 years or older.

In Rhode Island, while the age of consent is 16 the “law is repealed" for homosexual relationships. What does that mean?

The legal age of consent in Rhode Island is 16 years whether or not the individual is homosexual. Thus, the earlier laws relating to age of consent for homosexual conduct in the state have been repealed and made invalid. There is now a uniform law regarding age of consent.

Different jurisdictions may use different terms to define sexual relations in which one person is below the age of consent. These terms may include statutory rape, sexual assault, corruptions of a minor, unlawful carnal knowledge, etc. Laws relating to age of consent have been framed to punish cases in which adults take sexual advantage of a minor. Thus, a juvenile may not be tried under this law. In the case of two consenting minors, some states specify the minimum difference in age in order for the offense to be applicable. Since the law is complex and may vary from state to state, it is sensible to write to an Expert with your questions.
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