Statutory rape charges are based on the age of the two individuals involved in the sexual activity. Georgia law generally defines statutory rape as occurring when a person has sexual intercourse with someone who is under the age of 16 years. This charge is possible even if the underage individual consents to the sexual act. If the prosecutor chooses to pursue legal charges against the older participant, proving the allegations simply involves establishing two things:
- The victim of the crime was under the age of 16; and
- The victim and the person being charged did, in fact, engage in a sexual act that involved penetration.
(See Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-3). There does have to be some corroborating evidence other than the testimony of the victim. A person convicted of this crime may face from one to 20 years in prison.
Many people are surprised with being charged with this type of crime because the victim consented to the sexual act, and may even have initiated the sexual intercourse. It is important to note that it is not a defense if the person charged with statutory rape believed that the victim was older than 15 years, which would have meant that the victim was older than the legal age of consent. When the age difference becomes greater, specifically where the defendant is older than 20 years of age, the penalties for this crime increase. In a situation where a person is 21 years or older, the defendant may be facing a felony conviction punishable with incarceration in prison from 10 to 20 years.
There are exceptions to the punishment of this crime as a felony, specifically known as the Romeo and Juliet exception. The evolution of this law does recognize that there are times when teenagers are going to voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse, so there are exceptions to charging statutory rape if both individuals are 18 years old or younger and the older person is no more than four years older than the younger individual. However, a person charged with statutory rape under these circumstances may still be charged with a misdemeanor. The way this exception is crafted, the victim cannot be younger than 14 years of age, so an 18 year old defendant can be convicted of a felony for engaging in sexual intercourse with a 13 year old.
One other defense to the charge of statutory rape is where the older person is married to the person who is legally under the age of consent. This defense is a holdover from the days where there was an exception to marital rape and it is controversial in many cases where it has been asserted. (See Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-3).
The crime of statutory rape is distinct from a sexual crime where the victim did not give consent or was forced, which will result in a charge of sexual battery or sexual assault.
The Abt Law Firm, LLC. Aggressively Advocates on Behalf of its Clients
Many times, a person is taken by surprise by charges of statutory rape. Parents of a teenager who has been charged with this crime should take immediate action to get their child an experienced and zealous attorney in order to fight against the charges that could destroy a young person’s future. The Atlanta Criminal Defense Firm of the Abt Law Firm, LLC. knows how a criminal record can harm a young person with an unlimited future in front of him. We will work with you to do everything possible to prevent someone who made a foolish mistake from facing a lifetime of consequences. If you do not want a criminal record, call us immediately at 1 (800) NO JAIL 9 or 1 (800) 665-2459 and we can help. We offer free consultations at our office, over the telephone, and are ready to come to you in jail.