Statutory rape is a term that may mean different things, depending on the situation in which it is used or the state in which you reside. Some states define statutory rape as a sex act involving someone under 18, while others define it based on the ages of the parties involved.
In North Carolina, statutory rape again has its own definition. That’s why, if you are facing charges for it, it’s vital to understand the elements of this crime and what type of penalties you can face if you are ultimately convicted. Also, to avoid being charged with this crime in the future, it’s a good idea for everyone to understand consent in North Carolina and why it matters legally.
Statutory Rape in North Carolina
North Carolina law defines statutory rape as engaging in sexual contact to which the victim has not consented. The age of consent in the state is 16 – anyone younger than that is unable to consent to any sex act legally. However, North Carolina views statutory crimes differently from other sex crimes.
Statutory rape in North Carolina is not just one type of offense. There’s no singular statutory rape offense in the laws of the state. Instead, North Carolina considers many types of sex offenses involving adults having sex with minors as statutory rape.
They include the following offenses:
- First-Degree Statutory Sexual Offense
- Statutory Rape of a Child By an Adult
- First-Degree Statutory Rape
- Sexual Activity by a Custodian or Substitute Parent
- Statutory Rape of a Person 15 or Younger
- Statutory Sexual Offense with a Child by an Adult
- Statutory Sexual Offense with a Person Under 15
It is quite possible that someone who has committed statutory rape can be charged with more than one crime; it all depends on the elements involved in the case.
The Penalties for Sex Crimes Involving Statutory Rape
The penalties you will face for sex crimes involving statutory rape in North Carolina differ depending on what offense you are charged with. For example, if you are convicted of a sex offense of a child by an adult, then it’s a Class B1 felony – which can send you to prison for life without the possibility of parole. First-degree statutory rape is also a Class B1 felony.
However, crimes such as statutory rape of a person aged 15 or younger is a Class C felony if there is a more than four years but less than six years difference in age between the parties involved. More than six years is a Class B1 felony.
This is one of the many reasons why, if you are accused of a sex crime like statutory rape, you need an experienced attorney to help you understand the charges and what potential penalties you may face.
Registration as a Sex Offender
If you are found guilty of crimes involving statutory rape in North Carolina, you will also be required to register as a sex offender with the state. Once you’ve been released from incarceration, you’ll have to register with law enforcement in your community, providing your details so they can be placed in a public database. It will also limit where you can live, where you can work, and who you can see regularly. If you fail to register as a sex offender, that is an offense that can send you back to prison.