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Statutory rape charges: What you need to know about the law

Is statutory rape something you can really face charges for? The answer is yes, even if you're close in age to the minor who was allegedly raped. Statutory rape doesn't require force and simply means that one of the people involved in the sexual act was under the age of consent. If the child or minor is coerced or forced to participate in the act, then it's likely you'd be charged for molestation or aggravated rape, not statutory rape.

Yes, some states have Romeo and Juliet laws. Texas, for instance, has laws that protect those over the age of 14 who have sexual relations with someone of the same age or someone close in age. All states vary, but generally speaking, the people involved must be within three to four years of age of each other (neither party can be under the age of 14).

In Texas, the minimum age of consent is 17, and the minimum age allowed for sexual intercourse is 14 with the age differential of three years. That means that a 17-year-old boy or girl could have sex with a 14-year-old male or female without the risk of legal repercussions if both parties were willing.

Because the age of consent in Texas is 17, it doesn't matter if a 17-year-old female sleeps with a 25-year-old man, for instance, because she is old enough to make that decision by law. If the 25-year-old man sleeps with a 17-year-old woman who was actually lying about her age and was 16, then he could potentially be held liable and charged with statutory rape. Sometimes, a defense can be used to prove he did not know she was underage.

Source: FindLaw, "Statutory Rape," accessed Aug. 06, 2015

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