Every state and the District of Columbia has an “age of consent,” which is the age at which the law considers an individual old enough to consent to participate in sexual activity. The age of consent in North Carolina is 16.
If you engage in sexual intercourse with any person who is not yet 16, and if you are older than 16, the law may convict you of statutory rape. However, N.C’s statutory rape laws are not cut and dry, and it is important that you understand each statute that pertains to the offense if you face criminal charges. NC General Statutes – Chapter 14 Article 7B 2 explains the three applicable statutory rape laws.
Statutory rape of the first degree
First-degree statutory rape occurs when a person who is at least 12 years old engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is 13 years of age or younger and at least four years the defendant’s junior. If the state charges you with this offense, you face Class B1 felony charges and up to 25 years in prison — possibly without the possibility of parole.
Statutory rape of a person who is not yet 16
You may face statutory rape charges if you engaged in sexual intercourse with a person who, at the time, was 15-years-old or younger. For the charges to stick, you must have been at least 12 at the time and at least six years your victim’s senior. The only exception to this law is if you and your partner were lawfully married.
Like first-degree statutory rape, this crime is a Class B1 felony. If, however, the age gap between you and the victim was more than four years but less than six, the state may reduce the charges to a Class C felony.
Statutory rape of a child by an adult
Statutory rape of a child occurs when an adult — who is a person who is 18 years of age or older — participates in sexual activities with a person who is younger than 13. This is the most severe type of statutory rape charge and has a Class B1 felony classification. If convicted, you face a minimum sentence of 300 months in prison. However, the judge may use his or her discretion to sentence you to a longer-term or to life in prison without parole. Upon your release, if applicable, you must enroll in satellite-based monitoring for life.
Despite popular belief, statutory rape charges are just as serious as rape charges, and they could cost you your reputation and future. An experienced attorney can inform you of your rights and help you build a viable defense.