Have you Been Charged with Statutory Rape in Georgia?
Sexual crimes carry harsh punishments and a lifelong negative stigma. Although a charge is not the same as a conviction, many people treat them similarly. The Law Office of Richard Lawson and his team of Georgia Attorneys care about you how you are treated. They will ensure you get the best defense possible and will carefully consider your needs. Further, our Lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience vigorously defending those accused. Let that experience work for you! Call us today for a free consultation.
Statutory rape is one crime that can be misunderstood. Many people are under the misconception that rape occurs with force or against the victim's will. While this is true in some cases, statutory rape does not require any element of force to be a crime. Consent does not negate a charge of statutory rape. The only thing that matters when charging an individual with statutory rape is the ages of the accused and the alleged victim.
Georgia Law on Statutory Rape
The Georgia age of consent is 16 years old. In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Therefore, people age 16 or younger in Georgia are deemed legally unable to consent to sexual activity and having intercourse with someone underage may result in prosecution for statutory rape.
O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 reads as follows:
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 that person is not his or her spouse.
Therefore, it does not matter if the individual under 16 consents to the sexual activity. Under Georgia law, those under 16 lack the legal capacity to consent.
Georgia Case Law
The defendant, Hill, met the victim in a grocery store parking lot while her mother was inside. Hill asked her how old she was and replied thirteen years old. The victim and Hill began texting, and Hill would come over when the victim's parents would leave for work and perform oral sex on her. One day, the father was concerned his daughter was in an inappropriate relationship and confronted Hill when he stayed home from work. When the police officers showed up, her father showed them the text messages on the phone, and the victim told them about her sexual encounters with Hill.
During the trial, Hill argued that the victim told him she was 17 years old. However, reasonable belief that the victim is of the age of consent is not a defense to statutory rape. Therefore, the victim's testimony that defendant performed oral sex on her when she was 13 years old, corroborated by her prior consistent statements to her father and the responding officers was sufficient to support Hill's understanding that the victim, was in fact, underage. This resulted in a conviction for statutory rape under O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3(a) due to the intercourse that occurred between the two.
What Has to be Proven to be Convicted
To be convicted of statutory rape, the State must demonstrate that the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With regard to statutory rape, the ages of the participants are of crucial importance.
Penalty for Statutory Rape
If the defendant is under 21 years old and is convicted of statutory rape, then the punishment will be one to twenty years in prison. If over 21 years old, then the penalty is ten to twenty years in prison.
If the victim is between 14 and 16 and the person convicted of statutory rape is 18 years or younger and no more than four years older than the victim, the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
In addition to prison and/or a fine, a person over 21 years of age that is convicted of statutory rape must register as a sex offender with the state of Georgia for life. Registered sex offenders face many restrictions such as holding certain jobs and even going to certain places in the community.
Defenses to Statutory Rape
There was no sexual activity: Testimony or evidence that there was a mistake because there was no sexual activity is crucial.
The victim lied about her age: Although this is not a defense, if the victim lied about his or her age, and the accused is reasonable in believing they were of age when consenting, this can be used to mitigate the punishment.
Both parties were under the age of 16: If both parties were under the legal age to consent, and both parties were the same age, or close in age, this can negate a charge of statutory rape.
What are not Defenses
There was no proof that the vagina was entered: Proof is not essential to a rape conviction. However, there must be evidence that the vulva is sufficient to show penetration even though the vagina may be intact and not penetrated in the least. Addison v. State, 198 Ga. 713, (1941).
There was no force involved: A showing of force is not necessary in a statutory rape case. There must be an act of sexual intercourse and the age of the female that constitute the crime.
I reasonably believed the victim was of age: Defendant's knowledge of the age of female is not an essential element of rape. Therefore, it is no defense that the accused reasonably believed that the victim was of the age of consent. Tant v. State, 158 Ga. App. 624, (1981).
There was consent between the parties: If the participant is under 16 years of age, then Georgia does not think they have the legal capacity to consent. Therefore, consent is not a defense.
Statutory rape is often very misunderstood. Let the Law Office of Richard Lawson and his team of Georgia Attorneys help you. Contact our offices today. We are here for you 24/7 including nights, weekends, and holidays.