Recently, a man from Nanticoke was arrested for several child sex crimes, including multiple felony counts of statutory sexual assault. Of all the child sex crimes, this is one of the most serious, even though people may not realize it. Charges of statutory sexual assault are also largely misunderstood. If you are facing charges, or are in a relationship with a minor, below are four important things to know about this law.
The Age of Consent is 16 Years of Age
The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16 years old. This means that when an adult engages in sexual activity with anyone younger than 16 years old, they can be convicted of statutory sexual assault. When a case involves a minor between the ages of 13 and 15, the law becomes much murkier. Engaging in sexual activity with these individuals may or may not result in statutory sexual assault charges. Even when it does not, other criminal charges will apply.
The law previously included an exception for married individuals who are under the age of 18 years old. In 2020, that law changed and it became illegal for anyone under 18 years old to obtain a marriage license.
Pennsylvania has Romeo and Juliet Laws
Sometimes, younger people have consensual sexual relationships with a partner, even before they are of the legal age of consent. Pennsylvania law recognizes this and so, the state has enacted a Romeo and Juliet law. The law includes an exception for individuals who are 13 years old or older and their partner is not more than four years older than the minor. For example, a person aged 14 may have sexual relations with someone who is 17, as long as it is consensual.
It is always against the law to engage in sexual relations with anyone under the age of 13. Being convicted of doing so will result in penalties for child rape, which is a much more serious crime than statutory sexual assault.
The Penalties are Harsh
If you are convicted of statutory sexual assault, you will face a minimum of ten years in prison, and up to 20 years. You will have to pay a maximum fine of $25,000 and will likely have to register as a sex offender for many years to come. Each separate incident can also be charged as a separate count.
There are Defenses Available
Being charged with statutory sexual assault is very scary, but it is important to remember that a charge is not a conviction. You can fight back against the charges and it is important you do, because your future is at stake. A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer can advise on the potential arguments in your case, such as if the age of the minor was not confirmed at the time.
Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia Today
If you have been charged with a sex crime, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer can help you retain your freedom. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, we are committed to standing up for the rights of our clients and protecting their best interests. We want to put our experience to work for you. Call us now at 215-515-6892 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.