“Statutory rape” is a term that refers to sexual criminal conduct involving what on the surface appears to be consensual sex. In other words, while the word “rape” suggests a lack of consent, in statutory rape there is a presumption the sex, on its face, may have been accompanied by an agreement between the parties to have sex. The conduct is nonetheless illegal if one of the parties is not old enough to legally consent to sexual conduct.
Third Degree Sexual Assault
In the state of Rhode Island, a person is guilty of a third-degree sexual assault if their conduct meets the following elements:
- The person charged is over the age of 18;
- The person engaged in sexual penetration with another person;
- The other person is 14 or older; and
- The other person is also under the age of 16.
In Rhode Island, 16 is the age of consent. In other words, the law considers people 16 years of age and older to be mature enough to make their own decisions about who they want to engage in sexual conduct with and under what circumstances. However, if one is under the age of 16, the law does not recognize their ability to consent to sexual conduct. This is important for people to understand because even if someone says, “Yes, I want to have sex with you,” if he or she is under the age of 16, this consent doesn't matter.
Because a person can't consent to sex before the age of 16, if someone 18 or older has sex with someone 14 or older but less than 16, they can be charged with third-degree sexual assault, also known as statutory rape.
If You Have Been Charged with a Sex Offense
If you have been charged with a sex offense, you probably already know there are serious consequences for this type of offense. In addition to jail or prison time and a fine, you may face the possibility of being put on Rhode Island's Sex Offender Registry. You may also have difficulty finding a job or renting an apartment. The stakes in cases alleging sexual assault are very high. They should not be taken lightly. You need a qualified criminal defense attorney who understands the system and will fight for your rights.
Contact the Law Offices of Kensley R. Barrett, Esq. Kensley Barrett has the experience you need. We can explain the charges, possible defenses, potential plea negotiations, and litigation strategies, as well as possible consequences, including collateral consequences. Contact us today online or at 401-380-6724.