Share on Facebook In Virginia, it is illegal for an adult someone 18 or older to have sex with a minor someone younger than 18 , even if the sex is consensual. Those who break the law have committed statutory rape.
Statutory rape laws are premised on the assumption that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. The age of consent can vary among states, and some states differentiate between consensual sex between minors who are close in age for example, two teenagers of the same age , as opposed to sex between a minor and a much older adult.
Though statutory rape does not require that the prosecutor prove an assault, it is still rape. Of course, rape that does involve force or an assault is illegal in Virginia and prosecuted as forcible rape. Penalties depend on the ages of the defendant and victim, and the conduct that occurred, as described below.
Rape includes a sexual intercourse between a minor who is younger than 13 and a defendant of any age. This crime is a felony that incurs at least five years and up to life in prison, a fine, or both. Carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15 years old includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or penetration with an object, between a minor who is 13 or 14 years old and a defendant of any age.
This offense is a Class 6 felony when the defendant is younger than 18 and at least three years older than the victim. And the offense is a Class 4 misdemeanor when the defendant is younger than 18 and less than three years older than the victim. Causing or encouraging juvenile delinquency includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex between a minor who is 15, 16, or 17, and a defendant who is at least 18 years old.
Sex Offender Registration State law requires, in addition to the applicable fines and prison time, that people convicted of certain sexual crimes including certain instances of statutory rape must register as sex offenders. Minors are legally incapable of giving consent to having sex; so for example, if Jen, a year-old willingly has sex with Tony, her year-old boyfriend, Tony can be charged with rape, since Jen is not legally capable of giving consent in the first place.
But if Jen and Tony are married, Tony need not fear criminal charges for having consensual sex with Jen. However, if Tony were to rape Jen force her to have sex against her will , he would have no protection under the law even if the two are married. For more information about rape between spouses, see Marital Rape Laws. When Both Parties Are Minors: In Virginia, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between minors who are fewer than three years apart in age.
However, this is a limited exception because it serves to reduce the conduct from a felony to a misdemeanor offense. The conduct is still illegal, but someone protected by this exception will face the possibility of smaller fines and reduced jail time. Mistake of Age Defendants accused of statutory rape often claim that they had no reason to know that their partner was underage. They may argue that the victim herself represented that she was older than she was, and that a reasonable person would have believed her.
But as in most states, in Virginia even a reasonable mistake of age is not a defense to statutory rape. See a Lawyer If you are facing a statutory rape charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties such as, for example, probation instead of prison time , and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.