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Rape in North Carolina has always been deemed a serious crime. However, the state divides it into different types. Statutory rape is one such offense, and it can get a person into serious legal trouble. While many people can define what rape means, fewer people can identify what makes statutory rape illegal in North Carolina.

Here’s what you need to know about rape and statutory rape in North Carolina, as well as the penalties in store if convicted of either crime.

Rape in North Carolina

North Carolina law defines two different degrees of rape. They are:

First Degree Rape

This involves forcing another person to have non-consensual sex, defined as vaginal penetration. The perpetrator either possesses a deadly weapon or inflicts serious bodily injury during the offense. 

You can also be charged with this degree if the rape occurs with an accomplice or accomplices.

Second Degree Rape

This is defined under the law as non-consensual sex with a victim who is not able to give consent due to physical helplessness, incapacitation, or mental disability.

Statutory Rape in North Carolina

North Carolina defines “statutory rape” specifically as sex with someone at an age where they are not legally able to give their consent. In this state, that means someone age 16 or younger. If an adult has sex with someone under 16, they can face these charges.

It is a felony, but the level of felony depends on the age of the victim. If there is an age difference of four to six years, then it’s considered a Class C felony. If the difference in age is more than six years, then it’s a Class B1 felony.

Several levels of statutory rape charges exist in North Carolina. They are:

First Degree Statutory Rape

This crime involves vaginal intercourse with someone under the age of 13, plus the defendant must be four or more years older.

Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult

This charge occurs when a perpetrator aged 18 or older has vaginal intercourse occurs with someone under 13.

Statutory Sexual Offense with a Child

This is when the accused, aged 18 or older, engages in sexual acts with a child aged 13 or younger.

First Degree Statutory Sexual Offense

This level is defined by sexual acts with a child under 13 when the defendant is four or more years older.

Penalties for Rape and Statutory Rape

First-degree statutory rape and first-degree rape are punishable by up to 12 years in prison as felonies. Those convicted of first-degree statutory rape must register as a sex offender, possibly for the rest of their life.

The other statutory rape offenses can result in 15-25 years behind bars along with registration as a sex offender. Second-degree rape can result in up to 182 months in jail.

Penalties for Rape and Statutory Rape


One of the key factors in rape and statutory rape cases is consent. Lack of sexual consent, either because it is forced or one party is unable to consent, is illegal. It’s what makes rape a crime.

For statutory rape, here’s the crux of the matter: a child under a certain age cannot possibly give legal consent to the sex act, which is why it is illegal even if both parties “agreed”.

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