Common Questions About Age of Consent Laws Answered

In United States, ages of consent for sexual activity varies by jurisdiction. The age of consent is the age at or above which a person is considered to have the legal capacity to consent to sexual activity. If a child is younger than the specified age, he or she cannot consent to sex unless they are married to the person with whom they are having sex. The laws can sometimes result in questions like those below.

Q. Can one parent stop the other legally from allowing their 16 year old child to have sex in case of joint custody?

Having sex is not considered as a crime if the act is consensual and the child has reached the age of consent. So one parent cannot legally stop the other parent but may object the way the child is being brought up by the parent who has custody. In such a case, the other parent may ask the court to reconsider custody.

Q. In North Carolina, if a young 16 year old girl gets pregnant by a 34 year old man, what legal help do the parents of the girl have?

In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16 years. Once the teenager has given birth to the child and paternity is established, the father of the new born may have to pay for child support as per the court’s order. He may also be ordered to pay for some of the medical expenses.

In case the teenager gets an abortion done, she may not get any compensation. The parents still have the right to keep their 16 year old with them and the man may be obliged to support only the baby and not the 16 year old.

Q. If a 13 year old girl and a 15 year old boy have sex, is it considered illegal in Pennsylvania?

In the Pennsylvania statues, according to Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses), individuals between the ages of 13 and 16 may legally have sexual intercourse with persons between the ages of 13 and 17, and vice versa. To be illegal with consent, the “complainant” must be at least 13 years old and the “actor” must not be more than 4 years older than the complainant.

Indecent assault and other charges that deal with improper contact with a minor can be brought against the offender if the child is less than 13 years.

Q. Is it legal for a 25 year old to have a sexual relationship with a 17 year old in Rhode Island since the age of consent there is 16 years of age?

A sexual relation between a 25 year old man and a 17 year old girl is considered legal in Rhode Island because the age of consent is 16 years. But if the girl changes her mind about having sexual intercourse with the man, she may charge him with raping a minor.

Q. What legal recourse do parents whose 13 year old daughter is dating a 20 year old have in Montana?

The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years in Montana. A child younger than that cannot consent to sex unless he or she is married to the person who they have sex with. However, that does not stop the younger child from dating the adult, as long as they do not have any sexual relations. So in order to prove that the 20 year old man is going against the law, one would need to prove that he was having a sexual relation with the 13 year old. If this is proven, the man could get arrested and charged with rape. However if it is not proved that intercourse actually occurred, the guilty could be charged with sexual abuse of a child.

There are cases where the accused reasonably believed that the minor was at least 16 years old. There is a law creating a defense to statutory rape in such situations. But, that defense cannot be used if the victim is less than 14 years old or if there is evidence that the accused knew that the child was less than 16 years of age.

Q. While the age of consent is 16 years in Rhode Island, the “law is repealed” for homosexuals. What does that mean?

The law is repealed for homosexuals means it has been invalidated. Despite the fact that the age of consent in Rhode Island is 16 years, the law applicable for homosexual relationships have been cancelled.