What Happens If My Partner Is Over The Age Of Consent?

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One question that may come to many teenage readers' minds concerning age of consent laws is “What if my significant other is over the age of consent?” This question has many answers, all depending on the details of the situation. Where you live, both of your ages, and other factors have a huge effect on the ramifications of violating the age of consent rule.

For example, in an area where the age of consent is set at age fifteen, a fifty year old man with a fifteen year old girl might have a very different punishment than a fifteen year old girl having consensual sex with her sixteen year old boyfriend.

Close In Age Exemptions

Close in age exemptions, also known as Romeo and Juliet laws, help to protect young people from the extreme consequences of violating the law, which could label a young person as a sex offender for the rest of their life simply for having consensual sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Romeo and Juliet, one of the most popular works by William Shakespeare, features a love affair between two teenagers- a fourteen year old and a seventeen year old. In modern societies, this would usually violate the age of consent. The close in age exemptions allow young lovers to consent to one another without fear of breaking the law.

A good real-world example is Delaware. The age of consent in Delaware is eighteen, with a close in age exemption. Teenagers aged sixteen and seventeen are considered able to consent to an older partner, so long as said partner is under the age of thirty. This means that it would be within the law for sixteen year old to consent to sex with a twenty-nine year old, but illegal for a fifteen year old to consent to a nineteen year old.

A close in age exemption means that so long as the sexual partners are within a certain number of years apart, sexual contact is not illegal. Sometimes this means that youths below the age of consent may only consent to partners who less than the allowed number of years older, regardless of whether they are above the age of consent or not.

Besides the close in age exemption, the other most common exemption is the marriage exemption. In some areas, if the partners are married, the younger party may consent to their spouse. Sometimes the ages of both parties, in addition to the severity of the crime can help determine the severity of the punishment.

The severity of the crime can also depend on the position or authority that the older party has over the younger- a teacher, parent, step-parent, guardian, government worker or any other similar person may mean a more extreme punishment for the offender, and sometimes causes the age of consent to rise.

Statutory Rape and the Age of Consent

The bad news is that not all states have close in age exemptions. This means that, in some states, anybody - of any age - who has consensual intercourse with someone under the age of consent risks being prosecuted for statutory rape and being branded a sex offender for life. This is why it's so important for both partners to know and understand the age of consent rules in their state before beginning a sexual relationship when one or both of the partners are below the age of consent.

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