Statutory Rape: Is it Legal To Date This Person?

I see this question asked a lot. Typically, a kid will wonder if their adult boyfriend is going to get in trouble, or if the high school senior they want to date will end up getting them a felony. This article will help you understand the statutory rape law in Utah to help you make an eduated decision on who to date. In case you don’t want to read all the way through, the short answer is it’s not worth the trouble.

1. What is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape is commonly used to define the crime of having consensual sex with a minor. What they actually mean is unlawful sexual activity with a minor. In Utah, there are different definitions for unlawful sexual activity depending on how old the minor is.

Here are some important things to consider. (1) If the minor is younger than 14, it’s a different crime. (2) it has to be consensual, meaning it isn’t rape, or sexual assault or some other sexual crime. (3) If the child is between 14 and 16 years of age, sexual activity is not permitted with the minor if you are an adult (you may still be in trouble if you are 17). (4) Sexual contact, not just intercourse, is prohibited. (5) If the minor is older than 16 years of age, but younger than 18, you may run afoul of the statutory rape law, depending on how old you are.

2. My Boyfriend/Girlfriend is Between 14 and 16.

If the person you want to have sexual intercourse with is between 14 and 16, you’re out of luck. It is likely a felony, or at the minimum a misdemeanor. If you’re looking to date someone between 14 and 16, don’t.

But what if you’re under 18 yourself? It is still a crime to have sex with a 14-16 year old child, regardless of your age. However, instead of a felony, it is a class B misdemeanor. Whether you qualify for this “defense”, depends on whether you are within 4 years of age of the minor. If a 20 year old has consensual sex with a sixteen year old, assuming the consensual intercourse occurred with that age spread, the 20 year old would be guilty of a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

3. My Boyfriend/Girlfriend is Between 16 and 18.

This becomes more complicated, but you may not be guilty of a crime, depending on your age. If you are more than 7 years older than the minor, but less than 10 years old, and you knew or should of known the person was a minor, you are guilty of unlawful sexual contact. In other words, if you have a good reason for believing that the minor was actually 18 and not 16, you may have a defense (though it won’t stop you from being charged).

If you are more than 10 years older than the 16-18 year old, you’re out of luck, regardless of your knowledge. The same goes for if you have a special relationship of trust. If you’re wondering what qualifies as a special relationship of trust, I recommend you look at the following list: Utah Code Section 76-5-404.1.

4. If you’re Wondering, It’s Just a Bad Idea

You should now be able to answer whether you are OK to have sexual relations with someone. I would caution you, regardless of whether you are the minor, or the adult in this scenario, to not have sex with each other, regardless of legality. Even if it’s OK, you may still get charged and have to do a legal battle.

If you’re an adult, there are plenty of adults that come with no legal entanglements or worries of this nature. They are also more likely to be mentally developed and will come with significantly less drama. You may also encounter the ire of a parent who is still in legal control of that person. There’s a reason that high school relationships often burn out quickly, and that’s because they’re children. If you’re an adult and wondering if it’s cool to be with a child, even if it’s OK under the law, it’s bad for a multitude of reasons.

If you’re a child wondering if your potential boyfriend is going to get in trouble, you should be asking yourself why this adult is looking for minors to have sexual relations with instead of an adult. It’s likely because they have problems, or they’re predatory. You’re better off finding someone in your own generation, someone you can grow with and learn with. Not some adult with emotional baggage you don’t need.

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