Age of Consent and Statutory Rape in Georgia

One of the most important aspects of the law regarding sexual encounters is that of consent. Essentially, consent means that both parties agree to engage in sexual activity with one another – activity that can range from actual penetration to oral sex or touching the genitals. In the state of Georgia, like elsewhere, sexual activity of any kind without consent is a criminal act. But the question around consent is whether someone has the emotional maturity enough to grant it. To ensure that consent is something that can only be granted by adults, the federal government and the state of Georgia have set ages for consent. At a federal level, those between the ages of 12 and 16 cannot legally consent, unless the other party is less than four years older. The state of Georgia has set the age of consent at 16.

Even if they agree to participate in a sexual act, under Georgia law anyone under 16 cannot give their legal consent regardless of the other person’s age. Those who engage in sexual acts with another person aged 15 or younger can be charged with statutory rape.

Statutory Rape

Under Georgia law, statutory rape is considered a felony, and carries with it a possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison. This can vary somewhat – those who are under the age of 21 and charged with statutory rape can expect between 1-20 years. Those above 21 years of age can face between 10-20 years in prison as well as mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Minors who engage in sexual activity with another minor (generally when both are between 14-18) fall under the state’s “Romeo and Juliet” laws. They can still be charged with statutory rape, but as a misdemeanor. These charges can carry up to a year in jail as well as probation, community service, fines and a protection order to avoid the other party.

These charges are most often filed by a parent or guardian and have a strict threshold on age. What this means is that even if the defendant didn’t know the other person’s age, or if the two of them are in a consensual relationship, they can still be charged with statutory rape or contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

It’s important to note as well that, in addition to criminal charges, statutory rape exposes the defendant to possible civil litigation as well. As such, they may be held liable for financial damages on top of jail time and other consequences.

Defending Against Statutory Rape Charges

The nature of statutory rape means that beyond the punishments and fines laid out by the law, those charged and convicted will experience repercussions for the rest of their life, not least of which is being labeled as a sex offender. Even those charged and exonerated can see their professional standing, their place in the community and their personal life torn apart by these allegations.

Because the stakes are so high, you want an attorney in your corner who won’t back down and won’t rest until your charges are dropped. At the Turner Firm, we have helped people prove their innocence in the courtroom and in court of public opinion, exposing all the cracks in the case against our clients.

The typical defense against sex crimes charges is to establish consent, but in statutory rape cases that point is moot as the individual cannot legally grant consent. So we instead find a strategy to prove our client’s innocence by:

  • Showing that accusations are false, or the victim is being dishonest
  • Highlighting any areas where evidence is missing
  • Demonstrating where there were misunderstandings
  • Questioning whether sexual contact even occurred

These strategies and more have helped The Turner Firm reduce or dismiss charges.  Each case is unique and your defense may differ.   The earlier that an attorney gets involved, the better the outcome.  In many instances, we may be able to provide enough evidence to convince the prosecution not to file the charges to begin with.  There are numerous ways to contest these charges and it all starts by scheduling a free, no-obligation case evaluation with criminal defense attorney Joey Turner.

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