DC Statutory Rape Lawyer

Statutory rape is not mentioned in DC law, but DC law does have a few different offenses that cover actions one typically thinks of as a statutory rape, which are sexual acts or sexual contact with a minor by a person who is older. These are the kinds of actions that are typically criminalized in a way that people commonly think of as statutory rape.

As an example, DC has a criminal offense called child sexual abuse. A child, under DC law, is defined as any person under the age of 16. Child sexual abuse criminalizes sexual acts or sexual contact with a child by a person who is at least four years older than the child. If an individual has been accused of child sexual abuse, they should seek the services of a DC statutory rape lawyer. An experienced sex crimes defense attorney could work tirelessly to build a solid defense for an individual.

Degrees of Sexual Abuse in DC

Under DC law, there are two degrees of child sexual abuse. Second-degree child sexual abuse is when a person engages in sexual contact with a child or causes that child to engage in sexual contact. The offense typically includes an individual at least four years older than the child committing the sexual contact. DC statutory rape lawyers can review the facts of the case with a potential client to clarify the role of age within their case. That child is considered under DC law to be anyone under 16 years of age.

First-degree sexual abuse is when a person engages in a sexual act with the child or causes the child to engage in a sexual act. The person committing the sexual act has to be more than four years older than the child. As an example, a person who commits some kind of sexual act on a 15-year-old will be committing the offense of first-degree child sexual abuse if the person being accused is more than four years older, so over 19 years of age. DC laws criminalize sexual abuse of a minor, meaning anyone under 18 years of age. DC law also has two degrees of sexual abuse of a minor.

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Statutory Rape Cases

As a DC statutory rape lawyer could explain, the purpose behind Romeo and Juliet clauses is to avoid situations where two children of similar ages can be prosecuted for very serious sex crimes for engaging in sexual acts that otherwise consensual. As an example, without a Romeo and Juliet clause, a 15-year-old boy engaging in consensual sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl could be charged with a very serious felony charge of child sexual abuse because one or potentially both people in that relationship are children under the DC law.

Romeo and Juliet clauses typically require a certain age gap between the people involved. DC does have those age gaps in the child sexual abuse statutes. This is why under DC law, it is required that a person who has committed sexual abuse to a child be more than four years older than the alleged victim. That would prevent for example, a high school junior who has sex with a high school sophomore from being prosecuted as long as all the sexual acts or sexual contact are consensual. However, if one person in the relationship is 15, for example, and the other person is 20, then the 20-year-old can still be prosecuted for child sexual abuse because of the age gap in that relationship. These are typically referred to as Romeo and Juliet laws.

When Do Romeo and Juliet Clauses Not Apply?

An important situation where Romeo and Juliet clauses do not apply is an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. A minor, under DC law, is defined as a person under the age of 18. In allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, a person can be convicted of a crime if they are over 18 years of age and engaged in sexual acts or sexual contact with a person under 18 years of age if there is a significant relationship between the two. It can be a situation of a 19-year-old boy being prosecuted for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl if there is a significant relationship between the two.

Significant Relationships in Romeo and Juliet Clauses

A significant relationship is defined as a parent, a sibling, aunt or uncle, or grandparents, whether the two are related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership of adoption. A significant relationship would also include a guardian of another person who is more than four years older than the victim. In that situation, there is no Romeo and Juliet clause, but the age requirements are different.

A significant relationship would also include an employee or a volunteer of a school, a religious institution such as the church, an educational, social, recreational facility, or any other person who is deemed to be in a position of trust with authority over the child or minor. In these situations, it is common for there to not be a Romeo and Juliet clause where there are allegations of sexual act or sexual contact between a person over 18 years of age and any person under 18 years of age.

Value of a DC Child Sexual Abuse Attorney

If a person is charged and convicted of second-degree child sexual abuse, that person can face up to 10 years in prison per charge and fines of up to $25,000. A person who is convicted of first-degree child sexual abuse can face a possibility of up to 30 years in prison. But in some situations, a person can face the possibility of a lifetime in prison if there are certain aggravating factors present. With so much at stake, it is imperative that an individual gets in touch with a persistent DC statutory rape lawyer that could advocate for them.