Numerous young people experience sexual assault and rape every day. Schoolmates, neighbors, young sweethearts experience sexual encounters almost every time that their assumptions on consent misled them.
What young people need to know about sex laws is that these laws are complex, but if understood clearly, they can make wise decisions before they find themselves before a court.
The Legal Consensual Age
This is the age at which a person is mature enough to consent to sexual activities. In the US, the legal age of consent differs from state to state ranging from 16 to 18 years of age. Other states have a “close in age exemption” rule allowing consent on sexual activities between two people who are below the legal consensual age.
However, this rule is affected by some factors such as location, the age of both parties, and marriage. As an example, in Colorado, the age of consent is 17. There exists a close in age exemption which allows people aged 16 and 17 to have sexual activities with their partners not older than 10 years. Minors less than 15 years of age can also have sexual congress together with people less than four years older. In this case, it is illegal for a man of 45 years old to be with a 15-year old girl.
Most of the youth know about the minimum age to have sexual activities legally. However, they are usually unaware of the legal explanations of terms. Sexual intercourse is legally any form of penetrating the victim however slight it may be. Penile, oral, or digital are all considered as penetration. If the case involved oral sex, it is not important whether the underage is the one who committed the act or received it. This again varies across different states. In Massachusetts, mere vaginal stimulation even without penetration is also considered rape under the law.
“Indecent assault and battery” refers to any act of touching that is offensive to the contemporary values of morality without even the slightest of penetration. This can be under or over the age of 14 which is the consensual age for nonpenetrative sexual touching. Statutory rape refers to having sexual activities with someone under the consensual age.
The Role of Consent
Consent to sexual activities is what determines whether there is a crime or not. The factors affecting a person’s ability to consent are age, developmental and physical disability, intoxication, the relationship between the two people involved, level of consciousness, and vulnerable adults. This is where the confusion usually lies. Threat, force, and the current situation are the factors that determine the presence of a consent.
“Aiding and abetting” is a criminal offense charged to people who helped in committing the crime. This involves planning and assisting the actual act of the crime which can be considered sexual assault. Just being present at the scene can also be grounds for a crime. The person can avoid charges if he reports the crime and communicates it clearly with a lawyer or the police.
Penalties are heavier if the assault involves three or more people. Upon proving that this group of two people or more sexually assaulted the victim, the conviction of aggravated rape is charged.