Not all states handle sex crime allegations like statutory rape in the same way. While federal laws do not explicitly address statutory rape, each state has its own laws and punishments for the crime as well. Understanding these laws is crucial to building a winning defense against your charges, and the Law Offices of Daniel J Miller is here to help you do exactly that.
Common defenses against statutory rape include:
- Consenting age
- Requirement of force
- “Romeo and Juliet” laws
If you have been charged with statutory rape in Virginia Beach, contact our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Daniel J Miller. We are ready to defend you.
It is important to understand the consenting age for the state you are bring tried in. Generally, the legal age of consent is 18, but it can range from 16 to 18 depending on the state.
The offense is generally considered “strict liability”, meaning it did not matter if you believed that the minor was old enough to consent, or told you they were old enough to consent. However, some states now allow you to make the case that you believed, or were informed by the minor, that the minor was of a consenting age. This is not allowed in every state, and is not usable if the minor is unmistakably young, or under the age of 14.
Requirement of Force
Statutory rape is act of sexual intercourse with a minor. Unlike other types of rape or sexual crimes, statutory rape occurs when the minor seemingly consents to sex with the older individual. However, do to the minor’s age, they are unable to legally consent. Therefore, there is no requirement of force. The lack of force, and given “consent”, may often classify the case under a “Romeo and Juliet” law, depending on the state you are being charged in, and both participants’ ages.
“Romeo and Juliet” Laws
In the instance in which both participants are under the age of consent, or there is a small age difference between the offender and the minor, the crime is considered a “Romeo and Juliet” case. Some states have created a law that designates a different treatment for this case comparted to that of a typical statutory rape case.
Each “Romeo and Juliet” law varies on the state. Some states shift the level of offense from a felony to a misdemeanor. Others reduce the punishment to a probation, or a fine. The state may also decide not to list you as a registered sex offender. The treatments of this particular type of statutory rape vary from state to state, and may not be applicable in the state you are being tried in.
Defense Against Statutory Rape Charges
The Commonwealth has the burden of proving that the victim was unable to communicate an unwillingness to have sex beyond a reasonable doubt. Often times they succeed in obtaining convictions on the complainant’s uncorroborated claim by piecing together a case through circumstantial evidence. Proving this to be a false narrative can be a difficult task. It requires hours of research and preparation and in some instances may require the involvement of toxicologists, canvassing for eyewitnesses who may have had contact with the victim before the encounter, bar tabs, and video surveillance.
With over 15 years of criminal defense experience, our attorneys know how to work with you, and build a solid defense against statutory rape charges. Our professional and dedicated lawyers have represented men and women from these charges, and have even gotten cases dismissed or acquitted.