North Carolina
Statutory Rape Lawyer

Statutory Rape Defense Attorney Serving Jacksonville, Wilmington, and Surrounding Areas.

Being accused of a sex crime of any kind can result in serious repercussions and may inevitably lead to charges being brought against you. This is especially true for instances of rape. In some cases, even if your relations were consensual, you may still face serious criminal charges. For example: statutory rape. Statutory rape laws are intended to protect children and teenagers from predatory adults, but sometimes, these statutes are used with cruel intentions. 

If you or a loved one are facing statutory rape charges in North Carolina, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Aden Wilkie of Wilkie Law Firm is a force when it comes to defending those wrongfully accused of sex crimes and has a proven track record of fighting hard for his clients. To discuss your case and explore your legal options, call the Wilkie Law Firm today and schedule your free consultation. 

What is Considered Statutory Rape?

The legal statutes in North Carolina regarding statutory rape can be confusing and difficult to understand. They classify statutory rape based on the victim’s age and the level of sexual contact. This is because North Carolina statutes define “sexual acts” and “sexual contact” differently. Sexual acts include fellatio, cunnilingus, anal sex, and the insertion of objects, but it excludes vaginal intercourse. Sexual contact includes touching intimate areas or using your intimate areas to touch another person. 

Sexual contact usually results in a less serious charge than a sexual act would, but the situation can be tricky. It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense team by your side if you face statutory rape charges or any type of sex crime charge, for that matter. 

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Statutory Rape of a Child

The definition of statutory rape of a child involves an adult having vaginal intercourse with a child younger than 13. This is a Class B1 felony charge and comes with a minimum of 25 years in prison (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-27.23)

First-Degree Statutory Rape

First-degree statutory rape is also a Class B1 felony (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-27.24). This involves vaginal intercourse between a child less than 13 years old and someone who is at least 12 years old and more than four years older than the victim. 

Statutory Rape of a Person Who is 15 Years of Age or Younger

Two different situations could be classified as statutory rape of a person who is 15 years or younger, according to N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-27.25. This would result in a Class B1 felony charge if the child is younger than 15 and the defendant is at least 12 years old and at least six years older than the victim.

On the other hand, a Class C felony charge would result if the defendant is:

  • at least 12
  • at least four years older
  • less than six years older

A Class C felony typically carries a prison sentence with a maximum sentence of 182 months (a little over 15 years). Even consensual sex can result in a person being charged and convicted of this serious crime. 

Statutory Sexual Offense

Statutory sexual offenses follow the same breakdown as statutory rape crimes, but without vaginal penetration. Sexual activities include oral/anal sex or penetration with an object or body part other than the penis. The felony classifications follow the same structure as the ones for statutory rape, as well (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-27.26-30). 

Indecent Liberties

Indecent liberties between children can result in a Class 1 misdemeanor (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-202.2). This is considered sexual behavior between minors to gratify sexual desire. A defendant who is younger than 16 but three or more years older than the alleged victim can be charged with this.  

If the defendant is older than 16 and at least 5 years older than the victim, they can be charged with taking indecent liberties with children. This is a Class F felony and usually results in 1-2 years in prison (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-202.1). 

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What is the Difference Between Rape and Statutory Rape?

Consent makes statutory rape different than other types of rape or sexual assault. Sexual assault and rape are both forcible offenses that occur without explicit sexual consent from all participants. While consent is not a defense for statutory rape, consent marks the difference between statutory and forcible charges. Statutory rape also has legal defenses that can be employed to get the charges dismissed. 

What is the Legal Age of Consent in North Carolina?

The age of consent is the age at which a person can consent to sexual intercourse. In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16 years old. This means that in North Carolina, anyone 15 years or younger is legally incapable of providing consent. Any person knowingly engaging in a sexual relationship with someone under the age of 16 is committing sexual crimes and may receive very serious charges. 

How is Statutory Rape Proven?

Proving statutory rape includes establishing the occurrence of intercourse between a defendant and a victim who was under the age of consent when the intercourse took place. The prosecution does not need to prove malicious intent, only that the intercourse occurred. Even if both parties were willing participants, a sex crime can still be pursued and charged. Sex crimes are considered heinous, so there is a large burden on the defense to prove that no crime has been committed. 

What are the Penalties for Statutory Rape in NC?

The penalties for breaking the statutory rape laws in North Carolina can be severe and usually result in prison time. However, penalties vary based on the type of sexual activity and the ages of the participants. Prior convictions and the severity of the crime can play a large part in sentencing time. An experienced rape defense lawyer can fight your case and get the charges dismissed or downgraded to a misdemeanor. 

Sex Offender Registration

A person convicted of a statutory rape offense may face penalties that extend beyond prison time; they may also have to register as a sex offender. The amount of time someone stays on the sex offender registry depends on the nature of the crime and past convictions. If you have multiple convictions, you may have to stay on the registry for life and verify your address every 90 days. 

Is Statutory Rape a Felony in North Carolina?

Sex crimes are serious charges that can result in a felony conviction. In most cases, statutory rape and sexual intercourse with a minor result in a felony charge. Depending on the age difference and the specific circumstances, the penalty can range anywhere from fines to life in prison. If you or a loved one has been charged with statutory rape, contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney immediately. 

Possible Defenses for Statutory Rape Charges

Under North Carolina law, someone under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to a sexual relationship. As such, consensual sex can result in a statutory rape conviction if one party is under the age of 16. Consent is not a valid defense, and neither is parental approval. Statutory rape cases also do not accept mistake of age or mistaken identity as a valid defense. This is when you believe the person was of consenting age, but they were, in fact, not legally capable of giving consent. 

However, there are a few exceptions:

Marital Exemption

One defense to statutory rape: marital exception. The age difference between a minor and the minor’s adult spouse does not matter if they are legally married. Still, this exemption only applies if the sexual intercourse was consensual. Marriage does not protect against first-degree rape or second-degree rape. (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-27.25).

Romeo and Juliet Exception

Claiming the Romeo and Juliet defense is an exception to the statutory rape law aimed at teenagers who engage in consensual sexual intercourse with people who are the same age or very close in age. If the consensual sex occurs between a minor of any age and someone who is at least 12 years old and no more than four years older than the minor, this exemption applies. So, someone who is 14 can have sex with a 16-year-old and neither could be criminally prosecuted under this defense (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-27.24, 14-27.25). 

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Do I Need a Lawyer for a Statutory Rape Charge?

If you have been accused of statutory rape, the best course of action would be to immediately contact an experienced Jacksonville defense attorney. Do not give a statement to the police or even answer any questions without first speaking to your criminal defense attorney. Politely ask the police to speak to your attorney first. You can exercise your right to stay silent until an attorney is with you.

Also, DO NOT contact the alleged victims under any circumstance. Anything you say to either the police or to the other party involved can and will be used against you to pursue serious criminal charges for the alleged crime. Statutory rape attorneys can guide you through the legal process and fight the statutory rape charges against you. And remember, you should only share confidential or sensitive information with an attorney that you have established a formal attorney-client relationship with.

Call Jacksonville Sex Crime Defense Attorney Aden Wilkie Today

It’s important to remember that just because someone is charged with statutory rape does not mean that they have been convicted of a crime. In the United States, a prosecution team must establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Until then, you are to be presumed innocent in the eyes of the court. However, if you have been charged with statutory rape or a statutory sexual offense, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified statutory rape defense attorney for your greatest chance at building a solid defense against the charges you face.

If you or someone close to you is facing statutory rape charges, contact Aden Wilkie of the Wilkie Law Firm immediately. Aden and his legal team have plenty of experience defending against sex crimes in North Carolina and have seen how stressful accusations can be. Though no one can guarantee a successful outcome, Aden has an extensive record of fighting aggressively for his clients and has many successful case outcomes to prove it.

Call the Wilkie Law Firm at 910-333-9626 or complete a simple online intake form here to schedule your free case evaluation today.