Statutory Rape in North Carolina

Statutory Rape in North Carolina

statutory rape in NCStatutory rape in North Carolina is a very serious felony. Many people are surprised to learn that the age of consent in North Carolina is 16. As such, statutory rape is charged when an adult has consensual sexual intercourse with a child UNDER age 16.

Mistake of age is NOT a defense to statutory rape in North Carolina. It does not matter if the victim lied about her age. Statutory sex offense in North Carolina is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-27.20.

A person is guilty of this offense if he or she engages in vaginal intercourse or a sexual act with another person who is 15 years of age or younger. This offense would be formally called “statutory rape” is vaginal intercourse is involved. If another sex act is involved, this offense is formally called “statutory sex offense”. The two crimes are punished the same, the only difference is the type of sexual activity alleged. For purposes of statutory sexual offense, sex acts include: cunnilingus, analingus, fellatio, anal intercourse; insertion of any object into another’s genitals or anal opening

With statutory rape, the age of the victim and the age of the defendant are important. For example, an 18-year-old will not be charged with statutory rape for having sex with a 15-year-old. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Victim is under age 13 and defendant is at least 18

If the victim of an alleged statutory rape is under the age of 13 and the defendant is at least 18-years-old, the defendant will be guilty of the most serious form of statutory rape in North Carolina. In this case, the crime will be punished as a  Class B1 felony. Because of the nature of this crime, the defendant would face a more severe punishment with a mandatory minimum of 300 months (25 years) in prison. The punishment for this crime ranges from 300 months (25 years) in prison to life to life without the possibility of parole. The sentence depends on the defendant’s individual circumstances.

Victim is 13, 14, or 15 AND defendant is at least six years older than victim

If the victim of an alleged statutory rape is 13, 14, or 15-years-old and the defendant is at least six years older than the victim, the defendant will be charged with statutory rape. In this case, the crime will be punished as a Class B1 felony. This means that, under the North Carolina Felony Sentencing Guidelines, the defendant could face a sentence ranging from 141 months in prison to life to life without the possibility of parole. The sentence depends on the defendant’s individual circumstances.

Victim is 13, 14, or 15 AND defendant is between 4-6 years older than victim

If the victim of an alleged statutory rape is 13, 14, or 15-years-old and the defendant is at more than four but less than six least six years older than the victim, the defendant will be charged with statutory rape. In this case, the crime will be punished as a Class C felony. This means that, under the North Carolina Felony Sentencing Guidelines, the defendant could face a sentence ranging from 44 months in prison to 279 months in prison. That is approximately 3.7 – 23.25 years. The sentence depends on the defendant’s individual circumstances.

An example of this would be a 14-year-old victim and a 19-year-old defendant.

A person convicted of statutory rape / statutory sex offense will be required to register as sex offender. Note that statutory rape involves consensual sex. It is distinguished from forcible rape/forcible sex offense, which we discussed in another blog.

If you have been charged with statutory rape in North Carolina, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options.