What is statutory rape?
Statutory rape is a sex offense that is considered rape because, essentially, it would be legal but for the statute.
Let's start with "what is rape?" In Oklahoma, rape is defined as set forth here:
A. Rape is an act of sexual intercourse involving vaginal or anal penetration accomplished with a male or female who is not the spouse of the perpetrator and who may be of the same or the opposite sex as the perpetrator under any of the following circumstances:
1. Where the victim is under sixteen (16) years of age;
2. Where the victim is incapable through mental illness or any other unsoundness of mind, whether temporary or permanent, of giving legal consent;
3. Where force or violence is used or threatened, accompanied by apparent power of execution to the victim or to another person;
4. Where the victim is intoxicated by a narcotic or anesthetic agent, administered by or with the privity of the accused as a means of forcing the victim to submit;
5. Where the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is known to the accused;
6. Where the victim submits to sexual intercourse under the belief that the person committing the act is a spouse, and this belief is induced by artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the accused or by the accused in collusion with the spouse with intent to induce that belief. In all cases of collusion between the accused and the spouse to accomplish such act, both the spouse and the accused, upon conviction, shall be deemed guilty of rape;
7. Where the victim is under the legal custody or supervision of a state agency, a federal agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision and engages in sexual intercourse with a state, federal, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or an employee of a contractor of the state, the federal government, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision that exercises authority over the victim, or the subcontractor or employee of a subcontractor of the contractor of the state or federal government, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision that exercises authority over the victim;
8. Where the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system; or
9. Where the victim is nineteen (19) years of age or younger and is in the legal custody of a state agency, federal agency or tribal court and engages in sexual intercourse with a foster parent or foster parent applicant.
B. Rape is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a male or female who is the spouse of the perpetrator if force or violence is used or threatened, accompanied by apparent power of execution to the victim or to another person.
We will be paying special attention to the portion that is highlighted because that is the portion of the law regarding rape that most people would regard as "statutory rape". Rape, commonly defined, means to have sex with someone who does not consent to having sex with the perpetrator. Statutory Rape is different in that the consent of the alleged victim is irrelevant. So, if the person who wants to have sex with you is under sixteen years old, then "yes" also means "no".
Consent of the Victim is Irrelevant:
Here is the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instruction Regarding Rape in the Second Degree which is commonly called statutory rape.
RAPE IN THE SECOND DEGREE - ELEMENTS
No person may be convicted of rape in the second degree unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:
First, sexual intercourse;
Second, with a person who is not the spouse of the defendant [and who may be of the same sex as the defendant];
Third, where the victim was under the age of sixteen.
It is important to note what you will not find in here: knowledge of the age of the alleged victim. This means that if the alleged victim lied to the defendant (or even presented a believable fake ID, etc.) the defendant can still be convicted of statutory rape. There are only two real legal defenses to statutory rape:
- You didn't do it.
- You are married to her (or him).
All other defenses rely on either the prosecutor deciding not to prosecute the crime (by dismissing or amending the charge to something else) or there simply not being reliable evidence of the act and forcing the issue to trial
Punishment of Statutory Rape
If convicted they can be sentenced to prison from one to fifteen years for a first felony offense. A person so convicted is also subject to lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Yes, this is entirely ridiculous in a great many cases, however, the legislature has set this forth as the law of this state and only the legislature can alter it. Other states are worse (18 in California).
If you are accused or think you may be accused of statutory rape do not talk to anyone but your lawyer about it. Often there is no evidence other than the statements of the parties. Keep your mouth shut; all you can do is make your situation worse.