In Pennsylvania, most people who hear the phrase “statutory rape” envision a scenario involving a teacher having sex with an underage student. However, statutory sexual assault charges can be filed against people in many different situations. If you are facing a charge of statutory sexual assault, you should treat your case seriously. Being convicted of this offense can result in a lengthy prison sentence and mandatory sex offender registration for up to the rest of your life.
You do not have to commit a rape or use physical force to be charged with statutory sexual assault. Instead, this offense can be charged based on the age of the alleged victim even if he or she otherwise consented or concealed his or her age from you. If you are facing this type of charge, it is critical for you to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in West Chester, PA at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. Attorney Michael DiCindio can review the evidence in your case and discuss the options and defenses that might be available to you.
What is statutory sexual assault in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, rape is the most serious sex offense charge you can face and is punished more severely than sexual assault. However, both are serious offenses carrying harsh penalties.
What is sexual assault in Pennsylvania?
You can be charged with committing statutory sexual assault if you have sex with someone who is under the age of consent. In Pennsylvania, minors who are younger than age 16 are deemed to be legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse.
A statutory sexual assault charge does not require that you used force or threats or that the victim did not consent to have sex with you. Instead, you can be charged with this crime whenever the alleged victim is under the age of 16 even if he or she willingly participated in sexual activity with you.
Statutory sexual assault is found in Pa.CS 3122.1. You can be charged with statutory sexual assault if you have sex with someone under the age of 16 who is between four and eight years younger than you. A conviction for this type of statutory sexual assault is a second-degree felony. If the victim is under the age of sixteen and is between eight and 11 years younger than you, it is a first-degree felony.
The statute specifies that you cannot be charged with this offense if the alleged victim is your spouse. However, it is now illegal for people younger than age 18 to get marriage licenses in Pennsylvania, which means that this defense might not be available to most people in the future.
What penalties will you face if you are convicted of statutory sexual assault?
The penalties you might face for a statutory sexual assault conviction in Pennsylvania will depend on the age difference between you and the victim.
If you are four or more years older but less than eight years older than the victim, you will face the following penalties:
- Prison sentence of up to 10 years
- Maximum $25,000 fine
- Second-degree felony on your record
- Sex offender registration
If the age difference between you and the victim is from eight to 11 years, you will face the following penalties upon a conviction:
- Prison sentence of up to 20 years
- Maximum fine of $25,000
- First-degree felony on your record
- Sex offender registration
You can also be sentenced to years of sex offender probation and might have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. If you fail to meet your registration requirements, you can face a new felony carrying the potential of 10 years of prison.
Age of consent in Pennsylvania
Like other states, Pennsylvania has an established age of consent for engaging in sexual intercourse. The state’s age of consent is 16. Minors under that age are deemed to be incapable of legally consenting to have sex. If you have sex with someone younger than age 16 and are an adult, you can face serious criminal charges.
If a teenager is from 13 to 15, the state’s Romeo and Juliet law might apply if you are less than four years older and the teen otherwise consented. However, you might face other charges, depending on the circumstances.
What are the Romeo and Juliet laws in Pennsylvania?
The Commonwealth recognizes that many minors engage in sexual relationships with other teens. Because of this, Pennsylvania passed a Romeo and Juliet law to protect them from criminal liability.
If a minor is older than age 13 and has sex with a partner who is less than four years older, the Romeo and Juliet law can protect the older partner from liability. However, if the older partner is 18, the law will not apply when the alleged victim is 13. Regardless of the age difference involved, it is illegal to have sex with a minor who is younger than 13. If you do, you can face child rape charges.
Why it is important to get legal help
If you are charged with statutory sexual assault, you are likely concerned about your future. It is important to understand that simply being accused of a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. However, it is critical for you to retain an experienced sex crimes attorney for help with fighting the charges against you.
People sometimes are charged with statutory sexual assault when they reasonably believed the victims were 16 or older. Under 18 Pa.CS 3102, you can defend against a statutory sexual assault charge if the victim was at least 14 and you reasonably believed that he or she was at or above the age of consent.
Your criminal defense lawyer will investigate your case to identify all of the potential defenses that might be available to you.
Contact a criminal defense attorney in West Chester, PA
You should never try to defend yourself against a sex offense charge. The stakes are too high, and you are much less likely to achieve a successful outcome without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact DiCindio Law today by calling us at 610-430-3535.