Growing up, you probably heard about “statutory rape.” If you’re male, you may have worried about dating young girls out of fear that their parents may have you arrested for statutory rape. If you’re female, older suitors may have not dated you because of your age.
What constitutes statutory rape in Texas?
Statutory rape is a crime; it refers to having consensual sex with a minor who is legally under the age of consent. In Texas, saying that the minor consented or lied about their age is no defense.
Even if the minor pursued the older individual, and the whole rendezvous was the minor’s idea, an adult who has sexual relations with the minor can face serious criminal charges.
What is the age of consent in Texas?
The “age of consent” varies from state-to-state. In Texas, the age of consent is 17. That means an adult (someone 18 or older) can face criminal charges if they have sex with a minor who is under 17. However, there is an exception if the parties are close in age.
If the older person is not more than three years older than the minor, the law allows them to have sex with the minor. So, if the minor is 16 and the older individual is 19, the older person would be safe from prosecution.
This close-in-age exception does not apply, however, to same-sex couples or people who are registered sex offenders.
What are the penalties for statutory rape?
Let’s say you had sex with a 16-year-old and you are 21, you are over three years apart so the close-in-age exception would not apply to you. In that case, you could be charged with “indecency with a child,” which is Texas’ statutory rape law.
If you had consensual sexual intercourse with the 16-year-old, it would be a felony of the second degree, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.