You and your partner met online and quickly hit it off. You spend a lot of time together, and one thing leads to another. Their profile said they were 19, so you’re caught completely by surprise when their parents pursue statutory rape charges against you. But how were you supposed to know about this? What if your partner lies about their age?
Under New York law, knowledge is not an element of improper relationships or statutory rape. Therefore, claiming a lack of knowledge cannot be used as an adequate defense. State law specifically states that knowledge is not a factor in any case involving the age of a child.
That means it doesn’t matter if minor looks of age. It doesn’t matter what their dating profile says. It doesn’t even matter if they provide you with an ID that says they are above New York’s age of consent. If they are underage, the law views it as statutory rape.
The best way to avoid statutory rape charges is to make absolutely sure your partner is of legal age (17 in the state of New York). An identification card, by itself, is not enough. Keep in mind, if you’re accused of sexual assault, the charges will stand regardless of how thorough you were in verifying age.
While there are limited exceptions for teens of a similar age, anyone over the age of 19 should do their very best to ensure that their partners meet the age of consent. Failure to do so could result in charges of third-degree sexual assault (a felony) and potentially sexual misconduct (a misdemeanor).
If you were charged with statutory rape, you might want legal representation. If you’d like an experienced Rochester criminal defense attorney from King Law to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (585) 270-8882 at your earliest convenience.