Statuatory Rape (U.S.)

Is it true that if two minors have consentual intercourse the male is guilty of statuatory rape but the female isn’t?

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It depends on the jurisdiction. Generally speaking, two minors having sex with each other can both be charged with statutory rape (usually not called statutory rape but some degree of sexual assault). There was an IMHO thread not too long ago discussing a case where this very situation happened. One partner or the other doesn’t get a pass based on their sex/gender.

A minor is someone under 21 in my area according to some lawyer for a local BBS. People under 21 can legally have sex, yes.

As mentioned, depends on the local jurisdiction for the definition of when “statutory rape” happens, for the definition of “minors” and for what would be the charges and procedures for juveniles in that situation.

I believe by now in most US jurisdictions it is as Otto mentions. If anything, the older partner, regardless of gender, would be presumed to be the one that is at greater fault.
(OTOH, that all else being equal or at least close to it, the social-cultural tendency would be to see the female as the “victim”, even if they are of a same age, and thus there would be great pressure on police and prosecutors to try and get heavier on the boy, is another story. But that’s custom and practice, it’s not necessarily the LAW*)

However, on top of this, the Age-Of-Consent that triggers the charge with “statutory rape” may be and often is different, in each state, from the age at which you may be charged and tried for a crime in that state, and from the age of full “legal adulthood”. There are AoC’s as low as 12 and as high as 18 , ages of “legal adulthood” between 18 and 21, and ages of prosecutability from 14 to 18 and even lower depending on how heinous the crime. If neither of the parties is prosecutable as an adult, they may be handled by the juvenile system, which would not call it “rape” and would not brand you with a criminal record for life, but still could put both thru the wringer. (and I have read about so-caled “Romeo and Juliet” laws under which there is a “window” of ages for older minors to carry on with their peers while off-limits to dirty old bastihds.)

(* Though, for instance, in my jurisdiction we still have the older statute where, by the very definition of the terms, a legal charge using the specific word “rape” can only be made for acts committed by a male upon a female, so other acts have to be covered by other articles.)

Get me my cigar cutter…

From the [url=]California Penal Code section 261.5[/url:

So in point of fact, handy, you and your “lawyer for a local BBS” are both wrong. A minor in California where you live for purposes of unlawful sexual intercourse is someone who is under the age of 18 years.

Otto - as usual - is right.

Handy is wrong, and inexplicably decided to post incorrect information in answer to a GQ. Why he or she would choose to do that is unclear to me.

  • Rick


I don’t know if this is “generally speaking.” In some jurisdictions, such as California, apparently, two minors having sex can constitute statutory rape. In other jursidictions, including mine (Washington State), the perpetrator has to be a number of years older than the victim in order for a charge of statutory rape to be brought – two, three, or four years, in my jurisdiction (depending on the degree of the crime). So in this state two minors having sex would not constitute statutory rape at all if the participants are within two years of an age with each other, and may or may not be if the older participant is three or four years older, depending on the age of the alleged victim.

Based on that, I don’t know that it’s accurate to say one or the other rule holds in the U.S. “generally speaking.” But in no case AFAIK does the analysis turn on the gender of the older party – the potential perpetrator. Statutory rape can be committed by either male or female, and no state AFAIK differentiates on the basis of gender.

" So in point of fact, handy, you and your “lawyer for a local BBS” are both wrong."

Nope, I’m not wrong, technically. Look at the Family Code, state of California
Section 6502(a). A ‘minor’ was anyone under 21, until March 4, 1972.

Someone in my family got married under 18 in California, thus legally still a minor at that time & had sex & wasn’t charged.

And handy, if this were 1972, your point would have some relevance.

I refer you to today’s date.

Jodi, I concede that my wording was sloppy. Thanks for the clarification.

C’mon, HANDY, “technically” you are totally wrong – unless the you read the question as asking for the state of the law 21 years ago. And if your “local BBS” attorney told you something that hasn’t been correct in your state for 21 years, you might want to totally disregard whatever else he or she might have told you.

There’s also the issue of the prosecutor wanting to file charges, which they may not do even though an individual is in violation of the law.

Here in TN, there was a case about 10 years ago, where a man was charged with statutory rape, only to have the DA dismiss the case after it came out in court that the minor the man had sex with, was living with her boyfriend (who was the same age as the man), with her mother’s permission and her mother’s knowledge that the two of them were sexually active.

I’d wager that a lot of the statutory rape cases were brought by some DA who was looking to boost his chances come reelection time.

So why is the term “minor in possesion of alcohol” used to refer to those between the ages of 18 and 21?

From Otto’s post, with emphasis mine:

The OP asks about sex. The definition Otto gave refers to a minor in that context.


You were wrong. And your “someone in my family” example is also completely useless, since Otto’s posted language clearly removes from the reach of the statute spouses having sex with each other, regardless of their age.

The law in 1972 is plainly irrelevant to this question. No one asked you for the age requirements of the law in twelfth-century Britain, either, or what it was in Swift’s fictional Republic of Gondor. Do you plan to present some evidence of either of those if they buttress your earlier incorrect assertion?

  • Rick

Gives you all the info you need on the

If a statute says “For the purposes of this section, a ‘horse’ is a mechanical device used to convey people from location to another”, that doesn’t mean that a horse is actually a mechanical device. While, in the context of this thread, handy’s comment was misleading, I don’t think it is completely wrong. If you’re saying that “minor” is a word whose meaning depends on context, and in this context it means someone under the age of 18, it might be helpful to say so. I can see how you might think this is a nitpick, but I think that the impression given is that “minor” is a term whose meaning is independent of context.

In the context of this thread, HANDY’s answer was and is completely wrong. The fact that it might not be wrong under other circumstances, at other times, perhaps in a galaxy far, far away, is irrelevant. The context is given by the OP: sex between minors. The answers were naturally given in that context.

If someone posts the question “I was reading a British book that talked about a person weighing 12 stone. What’s a stone?” and a person answers “A stone is a rock,” then that answer is, in that context, wrong. Not “misleading,” not “dependent on context” (when the context is given): wrong.

I’m not busting HANDY’s chops, but he was just flat out – well, you know.