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Criminal charges

statutory rape

In most states it is a criminal offense (statutory rape) to have sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent—which is usually between 16 and 18 years of age. These laws are premised on the belief that a person under the age of consent is not capable of giving informed consent to sexual intercourse—even if the person was a willing participant.

Statutory rape may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense or as a felony offense—depending on the state’s laws and the ages and circumstances of the sexual activity. Statutory rape laws are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.

But many states recognize a defense to such a criminal offense if the persons engaged in the sexual activity were close in age—within three years, for example—provided the persons were at least 14 years of age, for example. These laws are sometimes called Romeo-and-Juliet laws, and are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.

In Texas, the age of consent is 17 years old, and sexual intercourse with someone under this age is considered statutory rape, which is a criminal offense. The Texas Penal Code defines statutory rape under various sections, including sexual assault and indecency with a child. The severity of the offense can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on factors such as the ages of the individuals involved and the nature of the sexual conduct. Texas does have a 'Romeo and Juliet' law, which provides a defense in certain situations where the sexual relationship is consensual and the individuals are close in age. Specifically, if there is no more than a three-year age difference between the two individuals and the younger person is at least 14 years old, the older individual may be exempt from prosecution for certain sexual offenses. This defense is codified in the Texas Penal Code and is intended to prevent the criminalization of consensual sexual relationships between teenagers who are close in age.

Legal articles related to this topic

Understanding Criminal Charges for Sex with Minors, Statutory Rape, and Improper Educator-Student Relationships
Laws related to sexual conduct involving minors can be challenging. The US has a patchwork of state laws, coupled with federal statutes that covering sex with minors, statutory rape, and improper student-educator relationships.