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Statutory Rape and Indecent Liberties with a Minor

In North Carolina, a rape or a sexual offense is one of the most serious crimes a person can face. When an alleged offense or statutory rape involves a minor, the potential penalties can be even worse ─ even when the act was not forcible. This situation often arises when a teenager is in a romantic relationship with someone four or more years older than them.

Although there is no law against these relationships, in North Carolina, there is a law prohibiting sexual relations in these situations. It is known as statutory rape or statutory sex offense. Unfortunately, some people find themselves facing very serious charges when they were not even aware that they were committing a crime.

If you have been accused of statutory rape or another sex offense involving a minor, please contact the knowledgeable defense attorneys at Kurtz & Blum today. We are here to listen to your side of the story and explain your options for fighting the charges against you.

What Is Statutory Rape?

In North Carolina, statutory rape refers to vaginal intercourse between a minor under the age of 16 and an adult. When someone is charged with statutory rape in North Carolina, the prosecution does not have to prove that the adult had malicious intent. In addition, a minor is not able by law to give consent, so the defense cannot argue that the minor was a willing participant.

What Is a Statutory Sex Offense?

In North Carolina, a statutory sex offense refers to sexual acts between a minor under the age of 16 and an adult that involve penetration other than vaginal penetration, such as anal sex, oral sex, or digital penetration.

What Makes Statutory Rape Different from Other Types of Rape?

In North Carolina, rape is considered sexual intercourse that uses force and is committed without the consent of the victim. However, a minor under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex. So even if the minor was a willing participant, the act is considered statutory rape.

The penalties for rape and statutory rape vary with the age of the victim and the defendant playing a factor in statutory rape cases:

  • A first-degree rape conviction is punishable by 144 months to life in prison.
  • A second-degree rape conviction carries a penalty of 44 to 279 months in prison.
  • Statutory rape of a child younger than 13 by an adult is punishable by 144 months to life in prison.
  • Statutory rape that involves a child younger than 16 and a person at least six years older than the victim is punishable by 144 months to life in prison.
  • Statutory rape that involves a child younger than 16 and a person at least four years older than the victim, but not as much as 6 years older, is punishable by 44 to 279 months in prison.

Apart from charges of statutory rape, a defendant may find themselves facing a lesser charge of taking indecent liberties with a minor or indecent liberties between children.

To better understand the charges against you, the potential penalties, and your legal options, please contact Kurtz & Blum today.

What Is the Age of Consent in North Carolina?

North Carolina law states that children younger than 16 do not have the mental capacity to provide consent to sexual activity. As such, the age of consent in the state is 16. However, there is an exception to this.

When an individual is employed by a school, that person cannot be sexually active with any student at that school unless they are married. This applies to any school, including colleges and universities, and age is not taken into consideration in these cases.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Statutory Rape?

Many crimes in North Carolina have a statute of limitations. This means that after the statute of limitations expires, the prosecution can no longer pursue a conviction for a crime. North Carolina does not have a statute of limitations on any sex offenses. This means that if someone is accused of statutory rape, he or she can be tried any time, no matter how much time has passed since the alleged offense.

Who Can Report Statutory Rape?

Like other crimes, anyone who learns of the alleged statutory rape can report it to law enforcement. This is often the parents of the minor, but it can also be teachers or anyone else who learns of the act.

When a teacher is accused of statutory rape, another teacher or someone else at the school may report it to law enforcement.

The minor involved in the act may also report the statutory rape to law enforcement, but this is rare.

Sex Offender Registration

Sex crimes against minors are taken very seriously in North Carolina, and statutory rape falls into that category. In the case of statutory rape, a person convicted of this crime will likely have to register on the sex offender registry. However, there are some instances that may not require registration.

To better understand the charges against you and how a conviction could affect your life, contact our law firm today.

Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge

Facing charges of statutory rape may seem hopeless, but it is not. Although consent is not a defense to this crime, there are other options for fighting these charges. These include:

  • Statutory rape marital exception: When two people are married, it can provide a defense to statutory rape. This defense is often used when a teacher at a college or university is married to one of their students.
  • The ‘Romeo and Juliet’ exception: North Carolina also has a provision that allows teenagers who are close in age to have a sexual relationship. This is known as the Romeo and Juliet law, and it allows individuals over the age of 16 to have a sexual relationship with someone who is no more than four years younger than them.

What you need to know about a mistake of age: Statutory rape and statutory sexual offense are strict liability crimes. Even if the accused had reason to believe that the person he or she was engaging in a sexual activity with was the age of consent, this does NOT provide a valid defense.

After reviewing the specific facts of your case, our lawyers will advise on the defenses that may be available to you.

In Summary

If you have been charged with statutory rape or a statutory sexual offense, you need the help of our North Carolina criminal defense lawyers at Kurtz & Blum. We are here to listen to your side of the story and craft a strong defense on your behalf. Contact us now to schedule a meeting with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

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