Situation: Laura is 15 years old and Steve is 20 years old. They have been dating for nine months. Steve is thinking about having sex with Laura. Steve tells his friends this and they tell him that having sex with Laura is statutory rape. Steve thinks his friends are wrong.
Question: If Laura and Steve have consensual sex, is it considered statutory rape?
Answer: Yes. Steve’s friends are correct. If Steve has sex with Laura, it would be considered statutory rape (specifically it would be considered a 4th degree sexual offense) under Maryland law because Steve is at least four years older than Laura. He has no defense to any possible prosecutions. Even if Laura agrees to sex with Steve, Maryland law considers her too young to consent to sex with someone more than four years older than her.
In the United States, the “age of consent” is the minimum age limit at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.
The Maryland Age of Consent is generally recognized as 16 years old. Walker v. State, 768 A.2d 631, 635 (Md. 2001). This means that certain sexual behaviors are not allowed, simply based on the ages of the people involved, whether or not the people consent to the behavior. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §§ 3-304 – 3-308
Maryland’s statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under the age of 16. Charges can vary based on the age differences between the victim and the offender. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §§ 3-304 – 3-308
Chart taken from(https://www.peoples-law.org/age-consent
Under Maryland law, individuals aged 15 or younger in Maryland are not legally able to consent to sexual activity with an adult, and such activity may result in prosecution for what is called statutory rape. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-304
Maryland’s statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual intercourse or a sexual act with an individual under the age of 14 and the person performing the act is at least 4 years older than the victim/minor. Charges can vary based on the age differences between the victim and the offender. Thus a 13-year-old can consent to intercourse with a 16-year-old; but that same 13-year-old cannot consent to intercourse with a 17-year-old. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §§ 3-304 – 3-315.
Any teen under the age of 14 that has consensual sexual contact in a relationship with a person who is 4 years older than them can be considered a victim of sexual assault and statutory rape because of age. This relationship would be considered abusive and would have to be reported to authorities and investigated. If law enforcement finds no reason to prosecute the incident as abuse, the case can be dropped. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §§ 3-304– 3-315.
Regardless of the specific sexual behavior, a person can be accused of committing a crime if the victim is under 16 and/or is 4 or more years younger than the person being accused. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-304(a) specifies the following:
“A person may not engage in vaginal intercourse or a sexual act with another….if the victim is under 14 years of age and the person performing the act is at least 4 years older than the victim.”
Crimes and penalties will be harsher if the victim did not consent, if the victim was physically or mentally handicapped, or other specific cases (Also subject to Md. Crim Law Code Ann §§ 3-303, §3-307(a)(3),(4),(5)).