Legal question about rape

Let’s assume for the sake of the question I am about to propose that two 17 year olds, Mike and Laura, are engaging in sexual relations. One day Mike becomes 18, an adult in the eyes of the law. The next day they have sex once again. Technically, even though Laura has been Mike’s girlfriend for years, he raped her since she is a minor and he is not. Could he be convicted on charges of statutory rape, or is there a provision in the law that allows for exceptions to the norm, such as this one, to happen without any legal punishment being imposed?

depends. Some states will take the “relative” age into account (no, not the age of the relative), but that they wouldn’t charge a person who is only a little older than the other person.

Other states (and my state, MI is one) do not take this into account, so I did talk to a guy who at age 17, had a mutual sexual encounter with a 15 year old and has to register as a child molester.

It depends mostly on whether the D.A. wants to press charges. If the age difference is great, they usually do; if they’re 18 and 17, they don’t usually bother.

In Kansas, yes, he would be a rapist. It would be entirely up to the descretion of the local DA whether to prosecute. This happened when I was in HS, to a guy who was hated deeply by the girl’s parents, who I understand were counting the days down until he turned 18. Then they called the police who caught the couple out at Olathe Lake. Although no sex was happening at the time, they found a single condom in the glove compartment of the car, which they said was “prima facie evidence tht sex had occured or was about to”.

A jury agreed. He was also denied entrance into the diversion program due to a previous drug charge from when he was under 18 (don’t know how they could do that, but it happened), so although he served no jail time, he still was out thousands in court costs, and he now has a felony record.

He was a creep, true, but I don’t think justice was really served by these actions.

God damn! That seems more than a little unfair. I know guys who haven’t gotten laid in years who still keep a condom in their wallets just in case.

The laws by country and state are summarized here. In the U.S. the age of consent ranges from 14 in Hawaii to 18 in about a dozen states. Most states seem to use 16 or 17. Click on the state in question for details about age differences.

For example, in Maine, it is illegal if the older person is over 18 and the younger person is between 14 and 16, but only if the age difference is at least 5 years. So 18-14 and 45-16 are both legal, but 21-15 and 18-13 are illegal. In Maine there is another clause making it illegal for school employees to have sex with students, even if the ages would otherwise make it legal.

“D.A. wants to press charges”
Hmmmmm, I always thought it was the folks who have to bring charges as they are legally responsible for children.

I understand (even though I not share) the law’s intent on establishing a particular age as a starting platform to endow an individual with the right to make decisions regarding his/her sexuality.

Where I was trying to get at is this: why would a law-abiding event, such as Mike and Laura having sex, be suddenly considered illegal if there has not being a change in the existing legislation, the age differential between the involved parties has remained constant, and the relation is still consensual?

I believe it depends on jurisdiction, but in many cases the DA can press charges without some civilian saying “I was wronged!” For example, spousal abuse where the victim refuses to testify/press charges, can still be prosecuted by the DA in some places.

So, if Billy Bob and Mary Sue’s daughter Betty Lou, age 12, is having sexual relations (with her parents’ consent) with Joey Ray, age 42, the DA can prosecute even though the parents say it’s OK with them.

You’ll forgive me for not looking up exact statutes, but, in your example, the kids are probably quite safe. Most states’ rape statutes, besides setting the minimum age for which sex with a legal adult may be considered “consensual”, also provide something along the lines that “it is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the actor is not more than 3 years older than the victim”. Hence, you shouldn’t go to jail for having sex with your girlfriend as long as she’s more than 15 years old on your 18th birthday. I say “shouldn’t” only because you never know how this wacky stuff’ll turn out.

If you want to read some state statutes, go to Age of Consent.

Also, keep in mind that at least here in CA, from what I’ve heard, it’s not legal for minors to have sex at all, regardless of who it’s with…

So your 16 year old son, who’s having sex with his 16 year old girlfriend, is in danger of getting a sex charge of some sort… I misremember which one right now.

Pretty jacked up, but where do you draw the line, with 12 year old girls busting ahem out and dressing like 22 year olds going clubbing? Where is the line?

Aside from the age gap thing mentioned by several other posters, in some areas statuatory rape laws only apply if the minor involved was a virgin.

Here. This is a post I made in another thread. It only applies to Florida though…
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=28516

“Hey doc? Listen, I need a prescription …”
Sua

Ehh…I’m just glad no one made any cracks about “beef injections” yet. Oops!

"Also, keep in mind that at least here in CA, from what I’ve heard, it’s not legal for minors to have
sex at all, regardless of who it’s with… "

Not so. First of all, a minor is someone under 21. A child is someone under 18.

Yes, in California, children can legally have sex under 18 if their folks give permission. My sister gave permission for her daughter to get married when she was under 18, the legal age of consent in California. Some actors also get married under 18.

As so many other posters have stated, every state’s laws are a bit different. The situation described in the OP could be completely legal, completely illegal, or, as the OP speculates, legal before and illegal afterwards. It just depends on what the law says.

That out of the way, it’s not unheard of for the law to permit behavior at one age that it would frown upon at another. Bert, a 20-year-old, may not drink liquor, and can be arrested for possessing it. But if the next day is his birthday, he may now legally possess and drink it. Why is the OP’s situation substantially different?

By the way - Anthracite’s “Although no sex was happening at the time, they found a single condom in the glove compartment of the car, which they said was ‘prima facie evidence tht sex had occured or was about to’. A jury agreed.”

I suspect there was something more. A condom in the glove compartment is circumstantial evidence. While circumstantial evidence alone certainly can sustain a conviction, it must reasonably exclude all other innocent hypotheses. The condom, even in a car with two teens on a “lover’s lane,” does not do this.

This is not to say that it didn’t happen – juries will often convict on factually or legally insufficient evidence. The problem here, if this did happen as described, was that the judge should have dismissed the case, or granted a motion for a new trial afterwards, or the defense attorney should have moved for dismissal, moved for a new trial, or appealed. Appellate decisions are full of cases reversed for just this kind of lack.

  • Rick

I’ve heard that before, but when I discussed it with a fella that’s taking law classes (for fun, he’s really a computer geek) he said that it was a common misconception.

Of course, I have no actual cites, but I am going to ask my 2 cop friends and see if I get the same answer. This is an interesting thread.

Hmmm… the wife and I think we’ll vacation in Florida this year… heheh (just kidding folks, yeesh!)

Tristan, I was a moderator on a board once (not this one). The boss got a lawyer & the lawyer explained minors/children & we went by what he said.