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Frank Jackson was voted a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.

Facing statutory rape charges? You can defend yourself

Charges for statutory rape are probably something you never saw coming. Maybe you started dating a girl who said she was 18 (but turned out to be 14) while you're 25, or you started hanging out with a man who said he was 21 when he was really only 15. The age of consent matters in these cases, of course, but if you've slept with someone under the age of consent, you can face statutory rape charges.

There are a number of factors that play a role in your case. First, know that statutory rape is a strict-liability offense. That means that the burden is on you to know the true age of the person you were with. In some cases, you may be able to show that you had no idea about the person's age, either due to a fake ID or meeting that person in a club for those over 21. If you can do that, it may help your defense even if your case isn't able to be dismissed completely.

Statutory rapes can be penalized as felonies or misdemeanors. The age of the victim plays a role in the determination of which charge you'll face. It also matters how much of a difference in your ages there is. The court is less likely to seek a felony against a 16-year-old teen and 19-year-old class friend than a 45-year-old person and a 15-year-old child in most cases.

If you're dealing with charges like these, it's important to talk to your attorney and to form a defense. Each case is different, and you have a right to be heard. Our website has more information on how to defend yourself.

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