In Virginia, a person under the age of 18 cannot consent to sexual activity, and the penalties for someone who violates the law and has sex with an underage child can be significant. However, there are exceptions to the law, and sexual activity with a teenager is not always a crime.
Virginia Statutory Rape Laws
Several different statutes apply to what is commonly called statutory rape, including:
- Having sexual intercourse with a child who is under the age of 13 is rape, according to Va. Code § 18.2-61
- Having sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or sexual penetration with an object with a child between the ages of 13 and 15 is a crime, according to Va. Code § 18.2-63
Sexual abuse, incest, exposing oneself to a child, and suggesting an illegal sexual act to a child are also against the law in Virginia.
Defenses to Virginia Statutory Rape Laws
A potential defense depends on the unique circumstances of an individual case. However, some defenses include:
- The ‘Romeo and Juliet’ exception. This exception is used when there is consensual sex between minors who are less than three years apart in age. For example, teens between the ages of 13-15 or 15-17 could have consensual sex, and the penalty is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
- The ‘Marital’ exemption. This allows consensual sex between a minor, 15 years or older, who is married to someone over 18.
Don’t Leave Your Defense to Chance
If you’ve been charged with statutory rape, you may believe you’re morally and ethically innocent. However, if convicted, you face a potentially significant sentence that includes between one year and life in prison and a fine of $2,500 - $100,000. Additionally, you will be required to register as a sex offender. Contact our criminal defense lawyers today to learn more about your rights and what you need to do to protect yourself.