Statutory rape is a concept heard about on television and in movies, but it’s essential to understand it’s a crime. This crime occurs, and it’s considered very serious in the state of North Carolina.
For those charged with statutory rape in the state, it may be challenging to recognize the true magnitude of the charges against you and the penalties you can face.
Statutory Rape: What Is It?
When most people think of rape, they think of sexual intercourse done against a person’s will, by force, or without their consent. Statutory rape is a much different charge, but the idea of consent is at its heart.
Statutory rape in North Carolina is a sexual offense that refers to sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent. Legally, a minor person cannot provide informed consent for a sexual act with an adult.
In the state, a person will be legally able to consent at age 16. If a person who is a legal adult has sex with someone who is 15 years old or younger, then they can face statutory rape charges. But, the severity of the charges they face depends on many factors, such as the victim’s age, the adult’s role in their life, and other considerations.
The Penalties for Statutory Rape
There are many categories of statutory rape in North Carolina, but they all have in common that they are felonies.
In North Carolina, statutory rape only refers to acts of vaginal intercourse with a minor. Anal or oral intercourse or the insertion of another body part or object into the vaginal isn’t considered rape. It’s considered a sexual offense.
The system used to sentence these offenses are the same if the age of the victim and other factors are equal. The violations and penalties are:
Statutory Rape or Sexual Offense of a Child by an Adult
If the accused is over age 18 and commits a sex crime against a child under 13, then they face a Class B1 felony. That can result in life in prison without the possibility of parole.
First Degree Statutory Sexual Offense or Rape
If the victim is 12 years old or less and the person accused of the crime is at least 12 or four years older, and they have sexual intercourse with the victim, they face this Class B1 felony. Again, it is punishable by up to life without parole.
Statutory Sexual Offense or Rape of a Person 15 or Younger
For defendants who participate in sexual acts with a person who is not legally of age to consent and there is a difference of six years or more in their age, they face this Class B1 felony. In cases where the age difference is at least four years but less than six, it’s a Class C felony, which can send a person to prison for up to 15 years.
Sexual Activity by a Custodian or Substitute Parent
In cases where the accused is in the parent role of the minor, a Class E felony can be charged, resulting in up to five years behind bars.