Five teens have been arrested and are facing charges for statutory rape in a case involving a single victim, a 16-year-old girl. The South Haven, Michigan teens, all 17 or 18 years of age, attend the same high school as the victim. The severity of the case has brought a lot of attention, but the fact that the defendants are all on the school’s varsity basketball team has made this case national news.
Another student informed a school counselor about the encounters between the five defendants and the victim. The police were notified following the student’s report, and each of the five teens was arraigned and released on $1,000 bond. While they await trial or the resolution of their charges, the teens have been permitted to return to classes. However, they have been suspended from the basketball team. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of sex offense.
What is Statutory Rape?
As details of this case are still limited, it is not known whether the acts were committed with the victim’s consent, or under coercion or force. But statutory rape doesn’t require force. Even consensual sex is a crime, if one of the participants is under age. If, however, force or coercion was used, the charges may be elevated to a more serious charge with more serious penalties and punishments. In MA, statutory rape is committed if a person engages in sexual acts with someone under the age of 16. However, in MA, statutory rape is charged as “rape of a child,” and carries stiff penalties, along with the need to register as a sex offender.
What are the Penalties for Statutory Rape?
Penalties for statutory rape vary widely. For example, the punishment for a 17-year-old who has consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend is likely to be much less severe than for a 25-year-old man who has sex with a 12-year-old. Punishments can range from no jail time to life in prison. Sexual acts against a child are punished more severely if:
- The child is under age 12 and the defendant is five or more years older.
- The child is between 12 and 16 years of age and the defendant is ten or more years older.
- The defendant is a doctor, teacher, clergy member, or social worker.
It is even illegal for a child under the age of 16 to have sexual intercourse with another child under that age. Therefore, in the case of a 14 and 15-year-old couple who choose to have sexual intercourse, both could be charged with a crime. Many states have something called a “Romeo and Juliet law” that holds that consensual sex with an underage individual is not considered statutory rape unless there is a certain age difference between the parties. But MA has not adopted the Romeo and Juliet law. So, as it stands, sexual intercourse with someone under age 16, regardless of the defendant’s age, is a crime. In addition to possible jail or prison time and fines, anyone convicted of a sex crime in MA must register as a sex offender. A MA defense attorney can help if you’ve been charged with rape of a child for a consensual relationship with someone close to your age. Continue reading