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From a recent question posed to the Firm on an online forum:
Question: I'm dating a 16 year old and I'm 22. We go to the movies, etc. If her parents consent to our relationship, is that okay? Can I be framed for his?
What is statutory rape?A tough question. Well, not so much. First, remember the golden rule. If it's under 18, don't play in the sandbox. Easy as that! Avoids all legal entanglements. If you want to skirt the edge of danger, remember the next rule -- if the age gap is more than 3 years, and the child is under 18, you're going to have problems.
But a discussion of legalities would not be complete without a cite to statute. So, let's take a moment to review VA Code 18-2.61
B. If any person carnally knows, without the use of force, a child thirteen years of age or older but under fifteen years of age who consents to sexual intercourse and the accused is a minor and such consenting child is three years or more the accused's junior, the accused shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. If such consenting child is less than three years the accused's junior, the accused shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. (VA Code 18.2-63(B))
Finally, an oft missed but very important statute in VA is "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" -- sex with a child over 15 but under 18. The code section is 18.2-371 and reads in part:
(ii) engages in consensual sexual intercourse with a child fifteen or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This section shall not be construed as repealing, modifying, or in any way affecting §§ 18.2-18, 18.2-19, 18.2-61, 18.2-63, 18.2-66, and 18.2-347.
Getting back to your specific question: you would be guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Note, that parental consent is not a bar to this. See 18.2-371(i) where the parents themselves could be charged as conspiring to commit the same crime.
This presents a rather interesting dilemma, as at 16, with parental consent, you are old enough to marry. However, as a practical matter, where the parents are consenting and the 16 year old is happy, you probably will not get turned in for violation of 18.2-37. If, however, the police stop you and determine the age of the child, they (police or child protective services) could press charges irrespective of the parents. You also place yourself in great risk of being "reported" if things go badly between you and 16 year old. Ouch!
As for going to the movies? Nothing illegal there! Just keep your hands in your own lap, and your eyes pointing towards the screen -- then the matter of statutory rape becomes moot.
For those of you in other areas around the beltway, you can look up the DC regulations on this matter at: DC Code 22-3009 and DC Code 22-3008, with definitions at 22-3001. Note that DC does not prosecute statutory cases over the age of 16, however, contributing to the delinquency of a minor can still be a problem here, too.
In Maryland, the code sections are MD Code 3-306, 3-307, and 3-304. Generally, only applies to children under the age of 16.
Both DC and MD use the 4 year age split rule instead of the 3 year rule of VA (i.e. enhanced penalties if the parties are greater than 4 years apart in age).
Do you have additional questions? Give us a ring! We have considerable experience defending sex crimes and family law matters. You can reach us at 1-800-579-9864.
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Fairfax, VA 22031
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Leigh Snyder, Esq.