The laws surrounding the age of consent can be complicated, especially when the individuals involved are so close in age. If you’re facing criminal charges for violating these laws, the penalties can result in felony convictions, lengthy jail time, and sex offender registration, among other things.
Taking these charges seriously is crucial, even if you’re facing a misdemeanor conviction. You need an experienced Manassas criminal defense attorney on your side to help you fight against the allegations. The Manassas Law Group has been representing residents throughout Virginia with criminal charges, personal injury claims, estate planning, and more for decades now, and we’re ready to help you with your case.
To discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, contact the Manassas Law Group today by calling (703) 361-8246. The sooner we can begin planning your defense, the sooner you’ll be able to move on with your life and put these allegations behind you.
What is the Age of Consent in Virginia?
According to Virginia law, the age of consent is 18 years of age for sexual intercourse and other sexual acts, including anal intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus. Adults that engage in sexual acts with anyone under 18 years of age can be charged with various crimes depending on the sexual acts performed and the age of the minor involved.
There are some exceptions to the age of consent laws in Virginia. If the individuals engaging in sexual activity are between 15 to 17 years of age, they may be able to provide consent to another person close to their age. For example, a 17-year-old may engage in a sexual act with an individual that is 15, 16, or 17 years of age and not violate the Virginia age of consent laws.
Under Romeo and Juliet laws in Virginia, this grace age allows two young adults the ability to engage in sexual activity without violating any laws. However, Virginia age of consent laws consider any individual three years younger than the alleged perpetrator a victim. This can result in the alleged perpetrator being charged with a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony offense.
Legal Definition of Consent
Consent is legally defined as the voluntary and willful agreement to another person’s proposition. The person giving consent must not have impaired mental capacity or physical disability. So, if a person suffers from mental impairment, physical disability, and/or is under the legal age of consent and voluntarily engages in sexual conduct, they do not have the legal capacity to provide consent.
What’s more, in order for a person to legally provide consent, it must not be given as a result of fraud, coercion, or error. If a person gives consent but only does so out of fear or duress, the other person could be charged with sexual assault or rape.
Anyone under the age of 13 cannot engage in consensual sex as they are below the age to provide consent, as stated in Virginia Code § 18.2-61. Children this age cannot consent as they do not have the necessary judgment or maturity to engage in sexual activity.
Code of Virginia § 18.2-63
Virginia Code § 18.2-63 defines carnal knowledge of a child between thirteen and fifteen years old as a criminal act. Under this statute, it’s against the law to engage in sexual activity such as anal sex, oral sex, sexual intercourse, or inanimate object penetration with anyone between 13 to 15 years of age.
What Does Carnal Knowledge Mean?
Carnal knowledge is defined as sexual acts including traditional sexual intercourse, oral sex (fellatio, cunnilingus, and/or anilingus), anal intercourse, animate object sexual penetration, and inanimate object sexual penetration.
Virginia law states that any person who carnally knows a child thirteen years to fifteen years of age can be guilty of a Class 4 felony. In these cases, there does not have to be physical force or threats. Code 18.2-63 further defines carnal knowledge as “the acts of sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, anal intercourse, and animate and inanimate object sexual penetration.”
Penalties for Statutory Rape in Virginia
The penalties for statutory rape are different than other rape charges in Virginia. A person convicted of this offense can be charged with a felony resulting in a 20-year prison sentence. They will also be required to register as a sex offender, which will follow them for the rest of their life.
There are some extenuating circumstances that can lessen a person’s criminal charges when accused of sexual activity with a minor. If the minor victim is less than three years younger than the Defendant, the Defendant may be charged with a Class 4 Misdemeanor. A person can also face misdemeanor charges if they engage in sexual activity with a child 15 or older that is not his spouse, according to Virginia Code § 18.2-371.
When facing charges for any type of sex crime, especially involving a minor, it’s important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The penalties for these sex crimes are often extremely harsh, and the repercussions of a conviction can follow you forever.
Criminal Defense for Violating Virginia’s Age of Consent Laws
If you’re facing charges of violating the consent laws in Virginia, the Manassas criminal defense attorneys at the Manassas Law Group are here to help. Whether you’re being charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you need a team of attorneys that you can trust and will aggressively fight for your rights.
Call the Manassas Law Group at (703) 361-8246 today to schedule a free consultation with our top Virginia criminal defense attorneys.