Being charged with a crime is one of the scariest situations someone can be in. All criminal charges come with some potentially severe consequences and one of the most severe categories of crimes, are sex crimes. Statutory rape is a sex crime that is often charged. What should someone do when they are charged with statutory rape? In this blog we will discuss it. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only and not intended as substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
What does it mean to be charged with statutory rape?
In the simplest terms, In North Carolina, statutory rape is when and adult has sex with someone who is underaged. North Carolina General Statute 14-27.24 states “A person is guilty of first-degree statutory rape if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with a victim who is a child under the age of 13 years and the defendant is at least 12years old and is at least four years older than the victim.”
The consequences of being charged with statutory rape
Statutory is a B1 felony and follows the North Carolina Felony sentencing guidelines. Additionally, conviction of this crime requires sex offender registration, and can never be expunged. When someone is charged with statutory rape before the case is resolved the pending charge can show up on criminal background checks. These are just a few of the collateral consequences that the defendant must be concerned about.
Defense when charged with statutory rape
When charged with statutory rape, the defendant should seek immediate legal representation. Like all other criminal cases there is only three ways this can end; a dismissal, a guilty plea, or a trial. When defending someone charged with statutory rape, the defense attorney must focus on the allegations and facts that are present in the discovery.
One of the many drawbacks of being charged with statutory rape is that it is a strict liability crime. This means that not knowing the age of the alleged victim is not a legal excuse. Additionally, whether the alleged victim gave “consent” is also not a legal excuse. During a criminal trial, the defense is limited because of this, and the main argument will likely be whether sex happened at all. This would come in the form of testimony by witnesses and the physical evidence that is available.
Like all criminal matters the defendant has the presumption of innocence and he is innocent until proven guilty.