Delaware Age of Consent Laws 2023
What is the Delaware Age of Consent?
The Delaware Age of Consent is 18 years old. In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 17 or younger in Delaware are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.
Delaware statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 18. Close in age exemptions exist which allow minors aged 16 or 17 to consent to sexual intercourse so long as their partner is under age 30 or if they were married at the time of the incident. Minors under age 16 may consent to a partner no more than 4 years older, although children under age 12 may not consent under any circumstances.
Delaware has a close-in-age exemption. A close in age exemption, also known as "Romeo and Juliet law", is designed to prevent the prosecution of underage couples who engage in consensual sex when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both are below the age of consent.
Depending on the situation, the Delaware close-in-age exemption may completely exempt qualifying close-in-age couples from the age of consent law, or merely provide a legal defence that can be used in the event of prosecution.
The age of consent in Delaware is based on the following statutes from the Delaware criminal code:
Delaware Age Of Consent Law: § 770. Rape in the fourth degree; class C felony. (a) A person is guilty of rape in the fourth degree when the person:...2) Intentionally engages in sexual intercourse with another person, and the victim has not yet reached that victim's eighteenth birthday, and the person is 30 years of age or older, except that such intercourse shall not be unlawful if the victim and person are married at the time of such intercourse.
Punishments for Violating the Age Of Consent in Delaware
Delaware has five statutory sexual abuse charges on the books which are used to prosecute age of consent and child abuse related crimes within the state. One or more of these charges may be used to prosecute violations of the Delaware Age of Consent, as statutory rape or the Delaware equivalent of that charge.
The severity of the criminal charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc) depends on the specifics of the acts committed and the relative ages of the perpetrator and victim. Click any charge for more detailed information.
|Sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust, authority or supervision- second degree||Class D felony; Class F felony; Class G felony||Up to 8 years in prison; Up to 3 years in prison; Up to 2 years in prison|
|Continuous sexual abuse of a child||Class B Felony||2-20 years|
|Dangerous crime against a child under 14||Class B felony||2-20 years|
|Sex offender unlawful sexual conduct against a child||Class B felony; Class C felony; Class G felony||2-20 years; Up to 10 years; Up to 2 years|
|Sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust, authority or supervision- first degree||Class A felony; Class B felony; Class C felony; Class D felony||15 years to life in prison; 2-20 years; Up to 10 years; Up to 8 years in prison|