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Old 11-16-2017, 12:09 PM
nelliebly nelliebly is offline
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The federal age of consent is 12?!

The Roy Moore situation had me curious, so I looked up the age of consent laws in all 50 states.

In 31 states, it's 16.
In 8 states, it's 17.
In 11 states, it's 18.

Yet the federal age of consent is only 12. Why so low?

And when would sex with an underage person be a federal charge? Cases where an underage kid is transported across state lines and has sex with an adult?

I admit I find the idea that a 12-year-old can give consent nauseating. I'm trying to figure out the rationale behind this. Is it simply outdated? Are there so few cases where the age of consent is relevant on the federal level that it's ignored?
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Old 11-16-2017, 12:16 PM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Not that cut-and-dried: Here is an article about the Federal laws involved.
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Old 11-16-2017, 12:27 PM
steatopygia steatopygia is offline
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Better than France which presently and historically has had NO minimum age.

Article. Proposed minimum; Thirteen...
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Old 11-16-2017, 12:34 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by steatopygia View Post
Better than France which presently and historically has had NO minimum age.

Article. Proposed minimum; Thirteen...
Huh? There's a French movie that I saw decades ago on Canadian TV - Baiser Rouge - and the key part of the movie is (I don't think I'm spoiling it for anyone) that after the 15-year-old takes up with an older photographer, her father calls the cops. 15 is under-age. After she goes apeshit on daddy, he relents - only to find that a complaint of sex with an under-age girl is the only criminal complaint in French law that cannot be withdrawn by the complainant. Final scene, the guy has joined the Foreign Legion to escape jail time and is being shipped out to fight in a French colony called Vietnam.
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Old 11-16-2017, 12:41 PM
steatopygia steatopygia is offline
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According to the linked article, in two separate cases, men have been cleared of all charges involving sex with 11 year old girls. The sex was judged consensual.
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Old 11-16-2017, 01:15 PM
nelliebly nelliebly is offline
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
That clears things up a bit.

It still allows a 12-year-old to give legal consent provided the other person is under 16. I understand the idea is to avoid punishing a partner who's within four years of the age of the younger person, but 12 still seems awfully young for the age of consent. Some states have so-called Romeo and Juliet laws that protect those who have sex with partners only a few years younger, but the age of consent is still 16-18, dependent on the state.

I'm not sure how many 14-year-olds can and have crossed state lines with the intent to have sex with a 12-year-old, but it's hard to believe it would be a common occurrence.

I'm still at "Why 12?"
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Old 11-16-2017, 01:28 PM
Tzigone Tzigone is offline
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I'm still at "Why 12?"
Beats me. Totally speculative answers are that 12 (point something) is the average age of first period for girls, and that it's a common age to switch to a junior high/high school from an elementary school (and then be hanging out with older kids that might be sexually active - them being the 12-year-olds peers). 13 would also make some sense, since it's switch from child to teenager (that's sort of dependent on culture, too, of course).

Last edited by Tzigone; 11-16-2017 at 01:28 PM.
  #8  
Old 11-16-2017, 04:45 PM
electronbee electronbee is offline
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So, would the Federal law apply at all in any state with an age of consent that is higher? Almost renders the argument a moot point, aside from shock value.

My guess as to why there is one at all, is that if you are a US Citizen with a passport, and you read the fine print, you have to abide by Federal law. So, say you go to a country where certain things can happen, and you have sex with someone less than 12, you have broken Federal law. By making the Federal requirement so "low" it avoids the states entirely and possibly allows for consensual sex with a 12 year old in other countries where it's socially acceptable.

I think it's gross myself.
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Old 11-16-2017, 06:39 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
...I'm still at "Why 12?"
Under English common law 12 was the minimum marriage for girls, 14 was the minimum age for boys. Common law inherited those ages from the canon law of the Catholic Church*, which in turn inherited it from Ancient Roman law.

Both sexes could be "betrothed" as young as age 7.
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Old 11-16-2017, 06:48 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is online now
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But you cannot vote til eighteen. Someone got the cart before the horse. Law needs to be changed.asap
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Old 11-16-2017, 06:56 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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IIRC the USA has a sex tourism law (same as Canada) where travelling abroad for the purpose of sex with someone under 18 - anywhere in the world - is a criminal offence. US law doesn’t apply overseas unless it explicitly says so in the law. The feds can’t nail you for smoking pot in Amsterdam but they certainly can if you have sex with someone underage.
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Old 11-16-2017, 08:02 PM
UDS UDS is offline
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According to the linked article, in two separate cases, men have been cleared of all charges involving sex with 11 year old girls. The sex was judged consensual.
Yes, but that's because they were charged with rape, in which lack of consent is an element. To secure a rape conviction, you do have to prove lack of consent. This is true regardless of the age of the victim. In a charge of rape, the victim's age is irrelevant.

There's a separate offence of having sex with someone under 15 where lack of consent is not an element; presumably if the defendants had been charged with that offence they would have been convicted.

Why were they not charged with that offence? I'm guessing, but I suspect it carries a lower sentence than the rape charge, and in the circumstances of victims as young as 11 they prosecution decided to go for the charge with the higher sentence, with an (evidently misplaced) confidence that they would be able to prove lack of consent.
  #13  
Old 11-16-2017, 09:03 PM
nelliebly nelliebly is offline
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So, would the Federal law apply at all in any state with an age of consent that is higher? Almost renders the argument a moot point, aside from shock value.
Federal laws apply when someone crosses state lines, as this guy discovered when he transported a 15-year-old girl across state lines to have sex with her.
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Old 11-16-2017, 11:10 PM
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In Washington state, the full age of consent (you can consent to sex with a person of any age) is 16.

Below that age, there is a tiered system for the sex (or molestation - i.e. no penetration) to be a crime:
If the victim is 14-15, the perpetrator must be more than 48 months older.
If the victim is 12-13, the perpetrator must be more than 36 months older.
If the victim is under 12, the perpetrator must be more than 24 months older.

I have an app on my phone to make it quick to calculate the number of months difference when I receive a case like this to investigate.

Obviously, it is still a crime if there is any force used, coercion, use of a position of authority, etc.
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Old 11-20-2017, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
Federal laws apply when someone crosses state lines, as this guy discovered when he transported a 15-year-old girl across state lines to have sex with her.
I'll skip to the punch line: Crossing a staid lion for immoral porpoises.
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Old 11-20-2017, 08:11 AM
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Huh? There's a French movie that I saw decades ago on Canadian TV - Baiser Rouge - and the key part of the movie is (I don't think I'm spoiling it for anyone) that after the 15-year-old takes up with an older photographer, her father calls the cops. 15 is under-age.
Wiki says it's been 15 for heterosexual acts since 1945, for homosexual acts since 1982. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_o..._Europe#France

I never really trust wiki so I checked the law cited. My French needed assistance from an online translator but the information appears correct for current law.
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  #17  
Old 11-20-2017, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by electronbee View Post
So, would the Federal law apply at all in any state with an age of consent that is higher? Almost renders the argument a moot point, aside from shock value.

My guess as to why there is one at all, is that if you are a US Citizen with a passport, and you read the fine print, you have to abide by Federal law. So, say you go to a country where certain things can happen, and you have sex with someone less than 12, you have broken Federal law. By making the Federal requirement so "low" it avoids the states entirely and possibly allows for consensual sex with a 12 year old in other countries where it's socially acceptable.

I think it's gross myself.
Federal law also applies to acts committed on federal property regardless of what state that federal property is in.

ETA: as for age of consent the age will be the same as the state in which the federal property is if it’s not specifically covered in a federal statute but it will be enforced under federal jurisdiction.

Last edited by Loach; 11-20-2017 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 11-20-2017, 09:48 AM
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That clears things up a bit.

It still allows a 12-year-old to give legal consent provided the other person is under 16. I understand the idea is to avoid punishing a partner who's within four years of the age of the younger person, but 12 still seems awfully young for the age of consent. Some states have so-called Romeo and Juliet laws that protect those who have sex with partners only a few years younger, but the age of consent is still 16-18, dependent on the state.

I'm not sure how many 14-year-olds can and have crossed state lines with the intent to have sex with a 12-year-old, but it's hard to believe it would be a common occurrence.

I'm still at "Why 12?"
Why not 12? That is what is often called the absolute age of consent. The age at which it is not possible to give consent. For instance in New Jersey if you asked me what the age of consent is I would say 16. There are some asterisks. It’s 12 with Romeo and Juliet exceptions. It’s 18 if there is a person of authority involved. If it wasn’t like that you could have a 13 year old arrested for sexual activity with a 12 year old. Is that ok?
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Federal law also applies to acts committed on federal property regardless of what state that federal property is in.

ETA: as for age of consent the age will be the same as the state in which the federal property is if it’s not specifically covered in a federal statute but it will be enforced under federal jurisdiction.
I still don't understand... Federal law does NOT apply overseas, except in specific laws that apply to specific acts as stated in the law.

(IANAL) As I understand it, for example, attacks on US citizens anywhere in the world, the US claims jurisdiction to punish the perpetrators. Also the USA like many first world countries nowadays has a sex tourism law - going abroad to have sex with someone under 18 is a specific criminal offense. (It use to be "for the purpose of", but I recall some article that said that the requirement to prove intent had been removed.)
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Old 11-20-2017, 11:03 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Thalion View Post
In Washington state, the full age of consent (you can consent to sex with a person of any age) is 16.

Below that age, there is a tiered system for the sex (or molestation - i.e. no penetration) to be a crime:
If the victim is 14-15, the perpetrator must be more than 48 months older.
If the victim is 12-13, the perpetrator must be more than 36 months older.
If the victim is under 12, the perpetrator must be more than 24 months older.

I have an app on my phone to make it quick to calculate the number of months difference...
You do????


Quote:
...when I receive a case like this to investigate.
Oh, OK. You had me scared there for a second!
  #21  
Old 11-20-2017, 04:21 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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I still don't understand... Federal law does NOT apply overseas, except in specific laws that apply to specific acts as stated in the law.

(IANAL) As I understand it, for example, attacks on US citizens anywhere in the world, the US claims jurisdiction to punish the perpetrators. Also the USA like many first world countries nowadays has a sex tourism law - going abroad to have sex with someone under 18 is a specific criminal offense. (It use to be "for the purpose of", but I recall some article that said that the requirement to prove intent had been removed.)
I think we are talking about different issues. I’m speaking about offenses that happen in the United States that would normally be handled locally but are instead handled by federal authorities because it happened on federal property.

You are correct that mostly there is no jurisdiction overseas except for the examples you give and maybe a couple others. Mostly American civilians will fall under local laws. Military personnel will be prosecuted in accordance with the status of forces agreement that the US has with that country. It may be different from country to country.
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Old 11-22-2017, 11:30 AM
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Think about it this way. There are basically three possible scenarios. First, there's two people who are obviously adults and most reasonable people would shrug and say "none of my business." Let's call that a green light. Second, there's the creepy cases like a teenage girl dating a man old enough to be her grandfather, where most people would say "Gee, I don't know, that's pretty messed up right there." We'll call that a yellow light. Third, there's the cases where 99% of us agree without hesitation that it's just flat-out wrong, like a full grown adult dating a child who hasn't even started puberty yet. That's a red light. "Age of consent" doesn't mean the boundary between green and yellow. It's the boundary between yellow and red.

There's a huge difference between "You should be ashamed of yourself" and "We have no choice except to put you in prison".
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:38 PM
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So what is the law if two seven year olds "play doctor" and one of them inserts a body part into the other one? Because unless there was force or coercion involved, I don't think that should be a crime. Certainly it shouldn't be rape.

Last edited by puzzlegal; 11-22-2017 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:02 PM
Asympotically fat Asympotically fat is offline
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In England there are two ages of consent, the age at which someone can lawfully give their consent and the age at which someone is deemed capable of giving consent. The first is 16 and the second is 13. So for example if someone is accused of raping a 14 year-old the prosecution would have to prove there was no consent (though even with consent they would still be guilty of sexual activity with a minor), but if someone was accused of raping a 12 year-old there is no need to prove consent as a 12 year-old cannot consent (though the circumstances could drastically affect the sentence received).
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:43 PM
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So what is the law if two seven year olds "play doctor" and one of them inserts a body part into the other one? Because unless there was force or coercion involved, I don't think that should be a crime. Certainly it shouldn't be rape.
Around here it would in no way be handled in the courts, even the juvenile court. If one of the children is hyper-sexualized at a young age it may indicate other issues and maybe abuse. Otherwise if it comes to our attention officially it would be sent on the child protection for possible counseling if needed.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:04 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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So what is the law if two seven year olds "play doctor" and one of them inserts a body part into the other one? Because unless there was force or coercion involved, I don't think that should be a crime. Certainly it shouldn't be rape.
In Canada, children under the age of 12 (I think) cannot be charged with a crime - any crime. This is a source of frustration to some law enforcement agencies and social agencies, because some 12yo's are mature enough to understand what they can get away with - even to the point of car theft. If they have severe mental problems, they could be institutionalized. Anyone under 18, unless the case is raised to adult court, does not get more than a 3 years sentence. I am always amazed to read about some states where, for example, 10-year-olds are charged with crimes as if they are adult enough to understand the gravity of their actions.

Two curious children are no cause for alarm, I would think. I would go on to say a child who acts in a predatory or sadistic manner has probably either got severe mental problems, or has been "learning" from adults, or both. IANAPsychologist, but it seems to me that predatory and pedophilic sexual urges manifest at or after puberty, not before.

(I have the theory that this accounts for the rash of accusations we saw in the 80's about satanic rituals. Adults interrogate children and ask them if they have seen or experienced horrible things by adults. Before puberty, children have no idea about sexual urges unless taught - so children pick up on the cues that the adult interrogators want to know about "terrible things" done to children, and not knowing about sexual urges or activities, the only terrible things they can make up to satisfy the adults are torture, murder, and cannibalism of children in the dark...)

Last edited by md2000; 11-23-2017 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:09 PM
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The thing that bugs me the most about age of consent laws is that once the person reaches it (and they’re still not yet legal adults) is that they become free-for-alls for adults of any age. Meaning someone who’s “legal” at 14 in a territory that recognizes 14 year olds as being capable of consenting to sex can be sexually exploited by a middle aged perv and there’s nothing anyone can do about it from a legal standpoint.

I thought the point of age of consent laws was to protect minors from exploitation. IMO, teenagers shouldn’t be having sex with anyone outside their age group.
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:31 PM
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How do you square the age of consent law and the fact that kids as young as 10 years old are allowed to marry in some stats in the US?

Link. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_..._United_States
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:49 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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Having sex with a 15-year-old might be rape, or it might be statutory rape. It depends on what she says. OTOH, if she's 12, it's rape, period. Even if she says she consented, it's still plain old rape, I'm pretty sure. I'm relying on a conversation a while ago with a cousin who works as a prosecutor, and I have not specifically emailed him about this, but I'm pretty sure that's what he said. If you have sex with a 15-year-old, you are going to be charged with something, but what depends on what she says. With a 12-year-old, it doesn't matter what she (or he) says.

In some states, reasonable belief (like meeting someone in a bar) that a person is over the age of consent is a defense to statutory rape, but in some states, it isn't. I don't know if, in the states where it is, if it's some kind of defense to raping a 12-year-old-- if you can claim to have a reasonable belief that you were committing "only" statutory rape, and convince the DA of that, if you will be charged with that instead.
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:15 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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The thing that bugs me the most about age of consent laws is that once the person reaches it (and they’re still not yet legal adults) is that they become free-for-alls for adults of any age. Meaning someone who’s “legal” at 14 in a territory that recognizes 14 year olds as being capable of consenting to sex can be sexually exploited by a middle aged perv and there’s nothing anyone can do about it from a legal standpoint.

I thought the point of age of consent laws was to protect minors from exploitation. IMO, teenagers shouldn’t be having sex with anyone outside their age group.
Canada changed its age of consent from 14 to 16 about 10 years ago because of this attitude. The point is - after puberty, kids are going to have sex. The first accuser in the Roy Moore case, for example, went to his apartment knowing full well what the game plan was... she just chickened out. (Which is her right.) OTOH, Mike Tyson was convicted of rape of an 18-year-old in his hotel room.

In both cases and many , the girls knew what they were doing. They perhaps did not understand that some men at a certain point may not take no for an answer. The question then is - where do you want to draw the line? IIRC more than half the states have an age of consent of 16.

Sooner or later, kids have to grow up and do things for themselves. At 16 they can drive. At 18 in the civilized world, they can drink, despite helicopter influence to change that to 19 or 21 in some places. At 18 they can sign contracts. At 18 they can join the army and get shot, buy firearms, etc. etc. As Canadians argue over what the rules will be about legalized marijuana next year, some very clever people suggested that the age for smoking pot should be 25. (So logical, since people under 25 - and under 18 - don't smoke pot.)

At a certain point in growing up, people get to make their own decisions. The proper way to teach is to not shelter them from the reality of the world, to understand that some people may lie and cheat and may not be their friend, no matter how it appears. (OTOH, some 25-year-olds still don't figure that out).

What is important is to instill the lesson that they have the right to say "stop", and when they say "Stop" if the other person does not, it is a crime.

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Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
Having sex with a 15-year-old might be rape, or it might be statutory rape. It depends on what she says. OTOH, if she's 12, it's rape, period. Even if she says she consented, it's still plain old rape, I'm pretty sure. I'm relying on a conversation a while ago with a cousin who works as a prosecutor, and I have not specifically emailed him about this, but I'm pretty sure that's what he said. If you have sex with a 15-year-old, you are going to be charged with something, but what depends on what she says. With a 12-year-old, it doesn't matter what she (or he) says.

In some states, reasonable belief (like meeting someone in a bar) that a person is over the age of consent is a defense to statutory rape, but in some states, it isn't. I don't know if, in the states where it is, if it's some kind of defense to raping a 12-year-old-- if you can claim to have a reasonable belief that you were committing "only" statutory rape, and convince the DA of that, if you will be charged with that instead.
IIRC in Canada, for example, there is no defense to underage sex. IANAL but I believe that "sexual assault', ie. using force against the other person to have sex, or not having consent, is a separate charge from sex with a minor below the age of consent. If both age and force are provable, I assume the person can be charged with both.

(Sexual assault is the common charge in many states too, now. It removes the argument over whether penetration was involved)
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:25 AM
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How do you square the age of consent law and the fact that kids as young as 10 years old are allowed to marry in some stats in the US?

Link. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_..._United_States
It is still illegal to herd pigs down Yonge Street, the main thoroughfare in Toronto. It just does not happen. The same with laws about 10-yo marrying. Presumably it is a right extremely rarely exercised. The real question is how many really get married very young, and why?

The article suggests 200,000 minors were married in the last 15 years. Likely most of those are in the 16 to 17 year age group, and is still significantly outnumbered by those having a baby (or an abortion). The laws themselves are a hold-over from the days when women (especially younger women) typically could not support themselves and had restricted legal rights on their own, so had to be supported by a male. After all, the puritanical lawmakers of the time probably thought a young woman on her own might resort to prostitution which would destroy the moral fibre of the community.

Then of course, in today's moral times, what difference does it make? If a 14-year-old wants to move in with her boyfriend, and the age of consent allows it, marriage is irrelevant. Her parents eventually aren't going to stop her. The real problem is with parents who effectively "sell off" their daughters for whatever motivation - perversion, money, or religious fervour. That should be illegal.

Last edited by md2000; 11-25-2017 at 11:26 AM.
  #32  
Old 11-25-2017, 12:16 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
Having sex with a 15-year-old might be rape, or it might be statutory rape. It depends on what she says. OTOH, if she's 12, it's rape, period. Even if she says she consented, it's still plain old rape, I'm pretty sure. I'm relying on a conversation a while ago with a cousin who works as a prosecutor, and I have not specifically emailed him about this, but I'm pretty sure that's what he said. If you have sex with a 15-year-old, you are going to be charged with something, but what depends on what she says. With a 12-year-old, it doesn't matter what she (or he) says.

In some states, reasonable belief (like meeting someone in a bar) that a person is over the age of consent is a defense to statutory rape, but in some states, it isn't. I don't know if, in the states where it is, if it's some kind of defense to raping a 12-year-old-- if you can claim to have a reasonable belief that you were committing "only" statutory rape, and convince the DA of that, if you will be charged with that instead.
Who do you mean by “you?” Most of those who have sex with 12, 13, 14 year olds are other 12, 13, 14 year olds. For an adult what you say is pretty much correct but the laws in each state vary greatly.
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Old 11-25-2017, 04:18 PM
igor frankensteen igor frankensteen is offline
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I'm trying to figure out the rationale behind this.
I'm just going to address this one little bit.

The thing to understand about the rule of law, especially in the United States, but elsewhere as well, is that it could be said to be "evolutionary," or even "organic" in nature.

That is, when new laws need to be passed, or are wanted, there is rarely any serious effort to go through all existing laws, to coordinate them all with each other. Nor has there been many efforts made to comprehensively go through ALL laws affecting an area, and coordinate them with the overall philosophy or goals of the people governed by them. And new laws are passed in reaction to whatever gets enough people riled up, that they elect politicians to address whatever the worry is.

The result, is that you will find lots of laws that "make no sense to you" in just the way that you feel with this one,just as people often find laws that functionally contradict one another, depending on the exact circumstances.
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:08 PM
nelliebly nelliebly is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
It is still illegal to herd pigs down Yonge Street, the main thoroughfare in Toronto. It just does not happen. The same with laws about 10-yo marrying. Presumably it is a right extremely rarely exercised. The real question is how many really get married very young, and why?


The article suggests 200,000 minors were married in the last 15 years. Likely most of those are in the 16 to 17 year age group, and is still significantly outnumbered by those having a baby (or an abortion). The laws themselves are a hold-over from the days when women (especially younger women) typically could not support themselves and had restricted legal rights on their own, so had to be supported by a male. After all, the puritanical lawmakers of the time probably thought a young woman on her own might resort to prostitution which would destroy the moral fibre of the community.

Then of course, in today's moral times, what difference does it make? If a 14-year-old wants to move in with her boyfriend, and the age of consent allows it, marriage is irrelevant. Her parents eventually aren't going to stop her. The real problem is with parents who effectively "sell off" their daughters for whatever motivation - perversion, money, or religious fervour. That should be illegal.
A fourteen-year-old girl's parents aren't going to stop her from moving in with her boyfriend?? While I know there are a few parents dumb enough and negligent enough to allow this, I wouldn't make it a blanket statement. Moreover, no STATE has a minimum age of consent below 16; whether her parents gave the OK or not, if he's more than four years older in any state (and even if he's the same age in some states), her boyfriend can be charged with statutory rape.
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