Can You be Charged with Statutory Rape if They Lie About Their Age?
Statutory Rape is a serious crime in Pennsylvania. Even when the sex is consensual, an adult who engages in sexual relations with a minor faces as many as 40 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. But what if the minor lied about their age? If you were under the impression they were an adult, is it still illegal? Like with many legal queries, it depends on the specific situation. That’s why it’s vital to consult an experienced defense attorney who will review all the details of your case. First, we’ll help provide a general understanding of the sex laws in PA and whether or not you can be charged with statutory rape if the victim lied about their age.
The Difference Between Statutory Rape and Sexual Assault
To premise the nuances regarding statutory rape laws, it’s important to identify the difference between rape and sexual assault. Pennsylvania no longer has a statutory rape law due to modifications in the original definition. As of 2015, the offense was renamed as statutory sexual assault. The difference being that rape innately involved non-consensual penetration with the addition of violence, threats, or force. This would also include using drugs or alcohol to impair the victim’s ability to say no.
The concept behind the change in statute is based on the definition of sexual assault lacking the component of violence. It’s more strictly defined as “sexual intercourse without the complainant’s consent.” It’s important to understand, however, that no matter how willing the minor is to participate or how emotionally involved they are with the defendant, it will not serve as a defense to statutory rape charges. This is because the sole focus is the age of the victim as the statute is based firmly on the assumption that minors, or individuals under the age of 16 in PA, are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual acts.
When a Victim Lies about Their Age
Even if a minor lies about their age, the defendant is unable to use their ignorance as a defense to the charges in most situations. The statute states that in the case of the victim being younger than 14 years old, there is absolutely no defense that the defendant was unaware of the child’s age or reasonably believed the child was 14 or older. However, it also states that if the child is under the legal age, but at least 14 years old, it is a defense for the defendant to prove through substantial evidence that he or she believed the child was of age. An example being a fake ID or documented statements from the victim assuring their legality.
When you’re looking at years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and a tarnished reputation for a lifetime, there’s no room for error. In order to protect your freedom against statutory sexual assault, you need an experienced rape defense lawyer who understands the fine details that could make all the difference in your case. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more.