In a legal context, the “age of consent” refers to the age at which an individual, whether male or female, is capable of providing consent to engage in sexual relations. This age varies from state to state, but it is recognized as the age when they are mentally capable of making an informed decision regarding the consequences of sexual activity. Thus, it is the age where they can enter into a legal voluntary agreement to engage in these activities.
The state of Georgia sets the age of consent at 16 years, with different rules covering different ages below that as well as different life situations. Essentially, anyone 15 years of age or younger is considered incapable of legally consenting to sexual activity. Thus, those who engage in sexual acts with individuals at that age can be charged with statutory rape, even if that individual consents to the act.
While statutory rape does refer specifically to sexual activity with a minor below the age of 16, it is still treated as rape by the state of Georgia. This is due to the fact that statutory rape is, legally, non-consensual owing to the victim’s inability to give their legal consent.
There is a separate crime beyond statutory rape, called sodomy, for acts that involve contact between sexual organs and either the mouth or anus of an individual younger than 16. The net result being, any contact between the sex organ and any part of an individual below the age of consent is considered rape.
The Legal Consequences
Both statutory rape and sodomy carry severe consequences under Georgia law. As a felony, these crimes carry a possible jail term of up to 20 years, depending on the age of the victim. Not only will the amount of fines and the potential jail sentence be considerable, those convicted will be required to register as sex offenders. The following breaks down the consequences for both statutory rape and sodomy.
Defined here as sexual intercourse between a person below the age of 16 and a person above the age of 18 (or at minimum 4 years older than the other person). This is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, if:
- The accused is under 21 and the victim is either 14 or 15 years old.
- The accused is 18 or older and the victim is within 4 years of their age (e.g. at least 14)
If, however, the accused is 21 years of age or older, and the victim is under 16 years old, the offense will be considered a felony and will carry a potential prison term between 10-20 years. The statute of limitations, meaning the time period in which charges can legally be brought against someone for a crime, is 7 years after the actual incident.
Defined here as sexual intercourse between an individual 18 years of age or older and an individual below the age of 16 that involves contact between the sex organs of one and the mouth or anus of the other. Sodomy can only potentially be considered a misdemeanor if the accused is under the age of 18 and is within 4 years of age of their victim. Extenuating circumstances can still lead to a felony charge at those particular ages, but with any other age gap it is generally considered a felony, with a prison sentence up to 20 years.
In cases of both statutory rape and sodomy, those who are convicted my face registration as a sex offender, which can have dramatic long-term repercussions on their ability to secure employment and housing. In addition, they will need to notify neighbors of their status and may be barred from living in certain communities.
Defending Against Statutory Rape Accusations
Even an accusation of statutory rape can carry devastating long-term consequences. Those who have been accused can see their reputation destroyed in an instant, their connections to their community, friends and family frayed and their professional credibility tarnished, even if they are ultimately exonerated. That’s to say nothing of the financial toll from lost income and legal fees, plus the emotional hardship that comes from fighting these accusations.
It can be a long road to recovery, but it starts with a strong legal defense. Some of the strategies to fight accusations of statutory rape include:
Challenging the Accusation: It did not happen or happened in a way different from the presentation. The defendant may have been falsely accused for various reasons, such as misunderstanding, revenge, or extortion, or the sexual intercourse itself may not have occurred.
Challenging the Evidence: The onus falls to the prosecution to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Their evidence may be insufficient to do so, or have been obtained by spurious means.
Challenging the Law: In certain cases, the constitutionality of statutory rape laws themselves can be called into question.
Let The Busbee Law Group Help You
Whether you have been formally charged with, accused of, or are under investigation for a sex crime, your immediate priority should be establishing a robust defense. A seasoned attorney can help you fight these charges by separating evidence from hearsay and establishing a narrative to confirm your innocence.
At Busbee Law Group, we’ve established a successful track record of defending clients from accusations of sexual misconduct. By putting our focus on your freedom, we can build a strong defense and create the positive outcome you deserve. Take a look through our past wins, then use the form below to schedule a free, confidential evaluation of your case.