Unlike rape, which is always considered to be non consensual intercourse, statutory rape is a charge that can stem from non consensual or consensual intercourse with a minor. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the minor has given permission; it is against the law to have intercourse with someone under the age of 18.
Exceptions to Age of Consent in Florida
In some states, the age of consent is less than 18 years old. In Florida, it is 16 years old. So a person who is 16 or 17 years old can give consent to have intercourse with someone 18 or older. However, the rule does not apply to someone age 24 or older.
However, if an individual between the ages of 18 and 23 has intercourse with a 16- or 17-year-old and it’s not consensual, that person can be charged with statutory rape. The same is true if the 16- or 17-year-old is disabled and found to not have the mental capacity to give consent.
So the circumstances in which a statutory rape charge could be filed would be anyone 18 or older who has intercourse with someone aged 15 years or younger, or when someone 24 years and older has intercourse with anyone under the age of 18.
Overview of a Statutory Rape Charge
Statutory rape is a second-degree felony charge, which could result in a prison term up to 15 years. However, imprisonment could be extended if it is a case involving a repeat offender.
It’s important to know that if the act of intercourse results in a female minor becoming pregnant and having a child, child support payments will be enforced. A test may need to be given in order to prove paternity.
The statute of limitations for filing a statutory rape charge is three years. There will be no legal recourse for anyone who waits longer than this time period.
Defenses in a Statutory Rape Charge
These are serious charges that allow little room for defense. Florida law doesn’t recognize a victim’s prior conduct as a defense. So if the argument is that the minor regularly engaged in sexual intercourse with other adults, it wouldn’t necessarily impact the case.
Another argument might be that the offender didn’t know the victim was a minor. This can’t be used as a defense, either. Unfortunately, even if the minor lies about his or her age, despite the offender truly believing it, it can’t be used as a defense.
However, both of these arguments might be helpful if there is a dispute about whether or not the act took place. In other words, false allegations of statutory rape might be helped by these arguments.
Other Sexual Crimes Related to a Minor
In addition to statutory rape, adults can find themselves facing other charges stemming from crimes with a minor. An example is indecent exposure or lewdness committed in the presence or upon a person 15 years old and younger.
Anytime there is a sexual crime against a minor, the potential to face a stiff penalty is high. In addition to jail time, an offender could pay hefty fines and face other punishments.