The Gray Area of Statutory Rape
Sex crimes are pretty black and white when it comes down to it. Yet there are some cases in which the crime—and the punishment—can fall into a rather gray area, and statutory rape is among these. Somewhat surprisingly, most states do not refer specifically to statutory rape, but instead designate such a crime as sexual assault or sexual abuse. Assault and abuse are blanket terms used to designate or identify such prohibited activity. Regardless of semantics, statutory rape is a sexual crime against a person who is not of age, based on the premise that until a person reaches a certain age, sexual contact with that person is illegal, regardless of consent. In most states, including Connecticut, the age of legal consent is 16 years old.
The punishment in Connecticut for statutory rape is steep—from 10 to 25 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of five years if the victim is between the age of 10 and 16. A convicted individual will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if the victim is less than 10 years old.
The US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that the vast majority of statutory rape victims (up to 95 percent) are female, but regardless of gender, almost 60 percent of all statutory rape victims were aged 14 or 15. Thirty percent of statutory rape offenders were boyfriends or girlfriends, meaning that the chance of consent was actually likely—even if the consenter did not have the legal ability to do so. An estimated sixty percent of all statutory rape offenders were acquaintances.
The murky legal consequences of statutory rape have to do with gender differences, according to Salon. In some cases, a female offender will be given a far less punishment than a male offender. Some psychologists believe that this is because of a sexist culture in which a female could not be seen to harm a young man’s sexuality, though a young man could certainly harm a girl’s.
If you or someone you know has been accused of statutory rape, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Fairfield County criminal defense attorney today.