What is Statutory Rape?

Statutory Rape in Massachusetts is defined as sexual intercourse with a person under 16. (G.L. c. 265, s. 23) In other words, if you are 16 or over and you have sex with a person under 16, you are committing a crime. The official term for statutory rape in Massachusetts is "Rape of a Child."

Question:Wait, what? So, if I am 16, and my girlfriend is 15, we can't legally have sex?

Answer: Correct. Under Massachusetts law, you are you are committing statutory rape if you and your 15-year-old girlfriend have sex.

Question: What if she agrees to have sex?

Answer: That does not matter. Consent is not an available defense to the charge of Statutory Rape. Comm. v. Elder

Question: What about oral sex?

Answer: That is considered "sexual intercourse" under the law. In fact, any type of penetration (oral, anal, or vaginal) by a penis, finger, tongue, or object is considered "sexual intercourse" under Massachusetts law.

Question: What if I have sex with a girl who says that she is 18, but, in reality, she is only 15. Can I be charged?

Answer: Yes, you can be charged. Your opinion of her age is irrelevant. Statutory rape law in Massachusetts does not allow for a "mistake of age" defense. Comm v. Miller "It has long been the law of this Commonwealth that it is no defense that the defendant did not know that the victim was under the statutory age of consent. Further, it is immaterial that the defendant reasonably believed that the victim was sixteen years of age or older or that he may have attempted to ascertain her age."

Question: What are the chances that the prosecutors actually charge me?

Answer: I wouldn't take the risk.

Question: But, my girlfriend and I are dating. No one is going to tell on us. So, we're safe, right?

Answer: Perhaps you are safe. But that may not always be the case. What happens when you break up? (and, you will break up). What if her parents do not approve of your relationship? What if they report you?

Question: Ok, ok, I get it. What happens if I get convicted of Statutory rape?

Answer: The judge will sentence you. Under the law you may be sentenced to anywhere from no jail to life in prison - a fairly large range. What's perhaps more serious is that you will have to register as a Sex Offender.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Rape of a Child, or if the police want to talk to you about an "incident," call Attorney Henry Fasoldt. He has represented a number of people charged with this crime.

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