While movies such as Lolita and Manhattan have glamorized sexual relationships between older men and teenagers, statutory rape laws make many sexual relationships with teenagers criminal. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse that is unlawful because of the victim’s age. Because the law has determined that the individual is too young to give consent, there can be no consensual sexual relations with them. Statutory rape is a “strict liability” crime which means that ignorance of the individual’s age is not a defense, and a bona fide belief that the victim is older than the age of consent is also not a defense. Even the victim’s lying about her age is not a defense.
16 & 17 Year Olds
Under Florida law, the age of consent is 18. Fla. Stat.§ 794.05, provides that the statutory rape law does not apply to individuals who are 16 and 17 if their partners are individuals who are 24 years of age or younger. Thus, the law is concerned with older adults abusing teenagers and therefore criminalizes sexual relations between individuals over 24 years of age and those who are 16 and 17. However, the law does recognize that teens who are 16 and 17 may have consensual sexual relations with individuals who are close to their age.
Florida law,Fla. Stat. § 800.04 makes any sexual relations with individuals younger than age 16 unlawful, regardless of the age of the partner.
Many individuals who are past their 24th birthday do not realize that having sexual relations with a person who is 16 or 17 is unlawful for them under Florida law. Further, they may not even be aware of the age of their partners; they think that the individuals are 18 or older and capable of giving consent. In some cases, the partners may have lied about their ages and said they were 18 or older. Nonetheless, because statutory rape law is a strict liability offense, the individuals who are past their 24th birthday may be prosecuted under the statutory rape law.
History, Gender, & Reporting
The law specifically provides that the sexual history of the victim is not relevant. Thus, even if the victim is more sexually experienced than the older sexual partner, the older individual may be prosecuted for statutory rape.
The statutory rape law is also written in gender-neutral language. Thus, under the statutory rape law, a woman past her 24th birthday could be prosecuted for statutory rape if she has sexual intercourse with a teenage boy of 16 or 17 years of age. Further, the law also applies to anal or oral intercourse between individuals of the same gender. If an individual older than 24 has such sexual relations with a person of 16 or 17 years of age, he or she can be charged with statutory rape.
Furthermore, Fla. Stat. § 39.201(1)(b),
mandates that professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, and other school officials, report child abuse by any adult and by a juvenile sexual offender.
Statutory rape is a serious crime, with serious penalties and serious consequences. Anyone who is being investigated for statutory rape or has been charged with statutory rape needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.