In the United States, age of consent laws regarding sexual activity are made at the state level. There are several federal statutes related to protecting minors from sexual predators, but laws regarding specific age requirements for sexual consent are left to individual statesDistrict of Columbiaand territories.
Depending on the jurisdiction, the legal age of consent ranges from age 16 to age In some places, civil and criminal laws within the same state conflict with each other. While the general age of consent is now set between 16 and 18 in all U.
Inthe age of consent was set at 10 or 12 in most states, with the exception of Delaware where it was 7. The final state to raise its age of general consent was Hawaii, which changed it from 14 to 16 in Age-of-consent laws were historically only applied when a female was younger than her male partner.
By ages of consent were made gender-symmetric. In Mississippi became the last state to remove this provision from its code. The laws were Indecent legal age teenager to prosecute people far older than the victims rather than teenagers close in age; therefore prosecutors rarely pursued teenagers in relationships with other teenagers even though the wordings of the laws made some close-in-age teenage relationships illegal.
After the Landry and Forrest study concluded that men aged 20 and older produced half Indecent legal age teenager the teenage pregnancies of girls between 15 and 17, states began to more stringently enforce age-of-consent laws to combat teenage pregnancy in addition to prevent adults from taking advantage of minors. Kercher of the Criminal Justice Center of Sam Houston State University wrote that these laws are often referred to as "Romeo and Juliet laws", though they defined Romeo and Juliet as only referring to an affirmative defense against prosecution.
On June 26,both heterosexual and homosexual sodomy became legal between non-commercial, consenting adults in a private bedroom in all U. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v.
Limonthe Kansas Supreme Court used Lawrence as a precedent to overturn the state's "Romeo and Juliet" lawwhich prescribed lesser penalties for heterosexual than homosexual acts of similar age of consent-related offenses.
From onwards states have started to enact Jessica's Law statutes, which provide for lengthy penalties often a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring for the most aggravated forms of child sexual abuse usually of a child under age Indecent legal age teenagerin Kennedy v.
Louisianathe Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the death penalty for rape of a child was unconstitutional. The act has to be illegal under state or federal law to be charged with a crime under band can even Indecent legal age teenager applied to situations where both parties reside within the same state but use an instant messenger program whose servers are located in another state.
This subsection is ambiguous on its face and seems to apply Indecent legal age teenager when the minor is transported across state or international lines to a place where the conduct is already illegal to begin with. The United States Department of Justice seems to agree with this interpretation. So, the age is 12 years if one is within 4 years of the toyear-old's age, 16 under all other circumstances.
This most likely reflects Congressional intent not to unduly interfere with a state's age-of-consent law, which would have been the case if the age was set to 18 under all circumstances. This law is also extraterritorial in nature to U. Citizens and Residents who travel outside of the United States. Although legislation tends to reflect general societal attitudes regarding male versus female ages of consent, Richard Posner notes in his Guide to America's Sex Laws: Supreme Court has held that stricter rules for males do not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution, on the theory that men lack the disincentives associated with pregnancy that women have, to engage in sexual activity, and the law may thus provide men with those disincentives in the form of criminal sanctions.
The Assimilative Crimes Act 18 U. Consequently, if an act is not punishable under any federal law such as 18 U. However, in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessionsthe Supreme Court held that in the context of statutory rape offenses that Indecent legal age teenager sexual intercourse based solely on the ages of the participants, the generic federal definition of "sexual abuse of a minor" requires the age of the victim to be less than There is also a mistake-in-age defense if the minor is over 12, but not if the minor is under Within the United States, United States servicemembers are further subject to the local state law both when off-post.
The local state law is incorporated, for the most part, into federal law when on-post per the Assimilative Crimes Act Indecent legal age teenager U.
Depending upon the relevant status of forces agreementUnited States servicemembers are also subject to the local criminal laws of the host nation for acts committed off-post. The age Indecent legal age teenager consent in the District of Columbia is 16 with a close-in-age exemption for those within four years of age.
According to the Code of the District of Columbia, a relationship is considered "significant" if one of the partners is:. As of August 1,the age of consent in each state in the United States is either 16 years of age, 17 years of age, or 18 years of age.
The most common age of consent is 16,  which is a common age of consent in most other Western countries. These state laws are discussed in detail below.
Most of these state laws refer to statutory rape using other names instead of "statutory rape" in particular. Nevada criminalizes "statutory sexual seduction" while Pennsylvania criminalizes "statutory sexual assault".
In most states there is not a single age in which a person may consent, but rather consent varies depending upon the minimum age of the younger party, the minimum age of the older party, or the differences in age. Some states have a single age of consent.
In Smith and Kercher wrote "Because of the large number of potential statutory rape cases, it is said that many jurisdictions will "pick and choose" which cases they want to investigate and prosecute.
Smith and Kercher wrote that there had been "large inconsistencies" among the Indecent legal age teenager of prosecution and sentencing of these cases, and there had been accusations that minority males who have sex with minority women resulting in pregnancy or who have sex with white women have faced the brunt of enforcement.
The Indecent legal age teenager of consent in Alabama is From by articles of the Code of Alabama:. The State Legislature passed Act making it a crime for any Indecent legal age teenager employee to have any sexual relations with a student under the age of A school employee includes a teacher, school administrator, student teacher, safety or resource officer, coach, and other school employee. Age of the student and consent is not a defense. So thus, the age of consent of 16 cannot be used.
Any individual convicted of these offenses, regardless if they received prison time or not, will have to register as a Sex Offender for the remainder of their life.
There was also a law which prohibited K teachers from having sex with students under age 19, and violators could face prison time or get on the sex offender registry. Alaska Statutes — Title Criminal Law — Chapter The age of consent in Arizona is However, there exist in the legislation defenses to prosecution if the defendant is close-in-age to the "victim" or a spouse of the "victim".
Arizona Revised Statute A. Under 18, the younger must not be less than 14, or if so, there is a defense if the minor is not more 4 years younger if 12 or above, not more 3 years younger if under Sexual intercourse of a major and a minor under 14 is a rape.
Arkansas Code — Title 5. Criminal Offenses — Chapter In California, there is a crime of "Unlawful sexual intercourse", which is an act of sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 who is not the spouse of the person.
So if a year-old Indecent legal age teenager has sex with a year old, both have committed a crime, although it is only a misdemeanor. The punishment is varied, depending on the ages of the perpetrator and the victim, and there are more severe penalties if there is a wider gap between the age of the perpetrator Indecent legal age teenager the age of the victim: There are also civil sanctions possible for a violation stated above.
There are separate crimes for committing sodomy with minors. There are separate crimes for committing any lewd or lascivious act with a person under the age of The age of consent, at the time applying only when the girl is the younger party, was 10 when California introduced its penal code in In the age of consent was raised to In the age of consent became The age of consent in California has been 18 since Some media sources reported that the age of consent in California in the s was 14 or 16 but in fact it was and has been In the s Governor of California Pete Wilson stated that there was a trend of men in their mid-to-late 20s having sex with and impregnating teenage girls around 14 years of age and that the statutory rape laws needed to be enforced to prevent this.
In Kristin Olsena Republican member of the State Assembly of Californiasponsored a bill that criminalizes sexual relations between K teachers and students, including students over 18, as well as sexual text messages and other communications aimed at seducing a student.
The bill was proposed after a year-old teacher and year-old high school student publicly announced that they were in a relationship. By there had been civil court rulings in California stating that minors under 18 may consent to sexual activity, even though the age of consent is 18 under state criminal law.
The age of consent in Colorado is 17; however, there exists in the legislation close-in-age Indecent legal age teenagerwhich allow those aged 15 and 16 to engage in acts with those less than ten years older and those less Indecent legal age teenager 15 to engage in acts with those less than four years older.
A year-old may not, however, consent to sex with a person who is in a position of trust with respect to the person under the age of eighteen. Notwithstanding the age of consent, however, for purposes of child prostitution offenses in Colorado, a "child" means a person under the age of eighteen years. Reasonable mistake of age, or similarity in age, is not a defense to these offenses.
All child prostitution offenses are class three felonies class one felonies are capital offenses, class two felonies include second degree murder. So, while it is not a crime for a year-old to have non-commercial sex with a year-old in Colorado, it is a serious crime punishable by four to twelve years in prison for an 18 year old to engage in any sexual act, or to present at a "place of prostitution" with an intent do so, for money or any other thing of value with a seventeen-year-old with the reasonable belief that the minor was under eighteen years old.
The same conduct, entered into with an eighteen-year-old and without a belief that the prostitute was under eighteen years of age, would be a misdemeanor.