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Does Age Difference Matter in Statutory Rape Charges?

In Georgia, it’s illegal for an adult to engage in sexual activity with a minor. The age of consent in Georgia is 16. Anyone under the age of 16 is considered unable to legally consent to sex. If an adult engages in sexual activity with someone who is a minor, they can be charged with the crime of statutory rape which is sexual intercourse with a minor. Georgia code 39-1-1 states “the age of legal majority in this state is 18 years; until that age all persons are minors.” Yet beyond this code are other laws which clearly get into age in terms of crimes and and define limitations based on age.

statutory rape in georgia

So what about an 18-year-old high school senior who has reached Georgia’s age of adulthood, but starts to date a Junior who is 15? Is that the same crime given the closeness in age. Let’s delve a bit deeper into how age difference may affect statutory rape charges in Georgia.

What are Statutory Rape Charges in Georgia?

In Georgia, the crime of statutory rape is defined (GA Code § 16-6-3 (2022) as ” A person commits the offense of statutory rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years and not his or her spouse, provided that no conviction shall be had for this offense on the unsupported testimony of the victim.” So since in Georgia, the legal age of consent is 16, sexual intercourse with someone under that age can be charged with this crime. A person convicted of statutory rape in Georgia, they will be guilty of a felony and a felony conviction brings harsher penalties than a misdemeanor.

It is important to note that even if both parties believe they are willing sexual partners, statutory rape charges still apply if one of them is underage. If you have been charged with statutory rape in Georgia, you will need a criminal defense lawyer. A good lawyer with experience can defend you and provide legal advice and guidance about your case..

Does Age Difference Matter in Statutory Rape Charges in Georgia?

Age difference between the parties involved in a statutory rape case is a factor in terms of conviction meaning felony or misdemeanor. Depending on the age difference between the two parties, different penalties could be likely. For example, if there is a four-year or more age difference between the adult and minor, then it is classified as a felony. But Georgia Code 16-6-3 on Statutory Rape clarifies an age distinction, stating “If the victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of statutory rape is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” This means if you are convicted, you are guilty of statutory rape. So if our poor high school 18 year old senior had sex with the 15 year old and was convicted, he/she will be punished at only a misdemeanor level and not as a felony.

The severity of charges can also depend on other factors such as whether force was used and/or if there was any kind of coercion involved. If that is the case, charges of rape may be brought in addition to or instead of statutory rape. Rape is considered one of the most serious violent crimes in Georgia and the United States.

How Can an Attorney Help With Statutory Rape Charges?

So if you are guilty of statutory rape, the only way age difference helps is in sentencing. A misdemeanor conviction brings less harsh penalties than a felony. So if you are charged with statutory Rape, you need to get a good criminal defense lawyer and fight those charges and try and avoid conviction. Your attorney will help to evaluate the facts of the case, determine any mitigating factors that may reduce or eliminate potential penalties, and launch a rigorous defense.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, a lawyer may even be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce charges or dismiss them altogether. Plus, an attorney can provide invaluable advice regarding options such as plea bargaining or entering into an alternative sentencing agreement.

Contact a Savannah Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing charges of statutory rape is an incredibly serious matter, and it’s essential to contact a criminal defense attorney if you’ve been accused. In Savannah, Phillips Carson Phillips is a well respected law firm led by attorneys Bobby Phillips, John Carson, and Jonathan Boone Phillips.

An experienced Savannah criminal defense attorney from our office can help you build a strong defense against statutory rape charges. You should not risk going through this process without a good lawyer. Contact Phillips Carson Phillips by calling (912) 232-0081 or using our online contact form.