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What do statutory rape charges in Pennsylvania mean?

Although it is no longer called statutory rape in most states, having sexual intercourse with a minor in Pennsylvania can have serious consequences on the life of the accused. Depending upon a number of factors, a conviction can mean jail time and additional penalties. It can even mean having to register as a child sex offender.

These are the factors used to address allegations of statutory rape:

1. The age of consent: This means the age at which someone can agree to have sexual intercourse. In Pennsylvania, the age of consent is 16 years.

2. The minimum victim age: People below this minimum age cannot agree to have sexual intercourse. In Pennsylvania, the minimum age is 13 years.

3. The age differential: When the issues are complex, such as when the victim is between the age of consent and the minimum age, age differential comes into play. It refers to the maximum age difference between the victim and the defendant. In Pennsylvania, the age differential is four years. What it means is that as long as the age difference between alleged victims and alleged offenders is four years or less, the victim can legally consent to intercourse. Of course, the victim must be 13 years or older for this to apply.

4. The minimum age of the defendant for prosecution: This factor does not apply in Pennsylvania as there exists no minimum age for prosecution in statutory rape cases.

Often, cases involving sex acts with minors can be fraught with "he said, she said" issues. If you have been arrested for statutory sexual assault, you will benefit from immediate legal assistance. A lawyer can help defendants formulate a defense and possibly avoid the harshest penalties associated with these types of sex crimes.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements," accessed June 23, 2015

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