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Statutory Rape in Atlanta & Georgia

By: Larry Kohn, Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney with over 20 years of experience as a sex crimes lawyer

With minor edits for clarifying some wording, Wikipedia defines the crime of statutory rape as follows:

In common law jurisdictions, statutory rape (sometimes abbreviated herein as “SR”) is a non-forcible sex act involving two parties in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent (the age required to legally consent to the behavior). Although it usually refers to adults engaging in sexual contact with minors under the age of consent, SR is a generic term, and very few jurisdictions use the actual term statutory rape in the language of their statutes.

Unfortunately, certain news stories involving celebrities, over the decades, have gained national attention. NFL hall of fame player Lawrence Taylor, R&B artist R. Kelly, and a Columbus GA female teacher have been accused of these crimes.

Different jurisdictions across the United States use many different statutory terms for statutory rapes cases, such as sexual assault (SA), rape of a child (ROAC), corruption of a minor (COAM), unlawful sex with a minor (USWAM), carnal knowledge of a minor (CKOAM), unlawful carnal knowledge (UCK), sexual battery or simply carnal knowledge. The terms child sexual abuse or child molestation may also be used, but SR generally refers to sex between an adult and a sexually mature minor past the age of puberty and may therefore be distinguished from child sexual abuse. Sexual relations with a prepubescent child is typically treated as a more serious crime.

In cases involving SR, overt force or threat is usually not present. SR laws presume coercion, because a minor or mentally handicapped adult is legally incapable of giving consent to the act. In the state of Georgia, anyone who engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 can face charges for statutory rape, even if the other person consents to the act.

Under the Statutory Rape Law in GA, What Is the Statutory Rape Definition?

Central to the statutory rape laws in every state is the topic of age of consent. Statutory rape vs rape starts with this age question. So, rape sentencing, statutory rape sentencing and other relates sex crimes like aggravated sodomy and sexual battery clearly differ from statutory rape charges. A person presuming that the law in Georgia is the same as South Carolina or Florida could find himself (or herself) facing a serious felony by “assuming.” Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Some web searchers type in “what age is statutory rape?” or “define statutory rape age.” Always remember that engaging in sexual activity with another person by force or without obtaining the other person’s consent can result in criminal charges for sexual battery or assault, no matter what the age of the other person.

While other states have enacted aggravated statutory rape criminal code sections, the Peach State has not. The exact language of Georgia law on this crime is printed below:

OCGA 16-6-3

16-6-3. Statutory rape

(a) A person commits the offense of statutory rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years and not his or her spouse, provided that no conviction shall be had for this offense on the unsupported testimony of the victim.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, a person convicted of the offense of statutory rape shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years; provided, however, that if the person so convicted is 21 years of age or older, such person shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years. Any person convicted under this subsection of the offense of statutory rape shall, in addition, be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Section 17-10-6.2.

(c) If the victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of statutory rape is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Georgia’s Statutory Rape Laws

Under Georgia laws, in order to convict a defendant for statutory rape, the prosecutor need only prove that the accused and the victim engaged in sexual intercourse via penetration. Ejaculation is not necessary, when the victim was under the legal age of consent (16 years old) at the time of the “act”.

According to state law, statutory rape in Georgia is sex with a person under the age of 16. The law defines the age of 16 as the point at which a person may legally consent to sex. In Georgia, this crime of SR is classified as a felony. SR is almost a strict liability crime, since the traditional “intent” element is lacking, since the accused can’t guess at the victim’s age, and then claim a good faith belief of him/her being older.

One major exception to Georgia statutory rape law is still in place. If the two people are married, Georgia will not prosecute. This issue creates interesting “law school” scenarios, of a man taking a 15-year old to a foreign land, to marry her, and then returning to Georgia as husband and wife.

Using the facts set forth above, the 15-year old can consent to sex, solely because it will be with her spouse. The crime of is defined as the act of carnal knowledge of a female with force and against her will.

Carnal knowledge is technically defined as penetration of the female sex organ (vagina) by the male sex organ. However, statutory rape in GA does not necessarily include the use of force, and other sexual acts such as oral sex may fall under statutory rape.

What are the Available Statutory Rape Defenses?

We must warn the reader that very few legal excuses are available for this crime. Simply stated, in the USA, certain people of a tender age cannot consent to having sex. But, under our laws, criminal codes cannot create strict liability.

Partially due to the draconian prison time imposed for any SR convictions, various states have enacted laws that create a different crime (or no crime) is the perpetrator was nearly the same age as the victim. Under subsection (c) of the Georgia law, thanks to the highly-publicized Georgia Court of Appeal case decided in 2007, involving Douglas County teenager Genarlow Wilson the Georgia Legislature grudgingly altered state SR laws for this type of exception in 2010..

These have come to be known as “Romeo and Juliet” laws. Plus, although extremely rare and difficult to prove in most cases, a man can take prescribed medication (like Ambien) and have a somnambulant “sleep walking” event that also involves sexual penetration of a minor child.

The Top 5 Easy-to-Answer SR Questions

Is statutory rape a felony? Yes, if convicted of any SR crime for which a Romeo and Juliet “similar ages” exception applies.

What does statutory rape mean? That an adult has engaged in a prohibited sex act (usually carnal knowledge) with a person is below the age of consent.

What is the statutory rape penalty? In Georgia, it is 10 to 20 years for persons age 21 and over when the crime is committed, but 1 to 20 years if the perpetrator is under 21 years of age. In the last two decades, many states have rolled back multi-decade sex crime penalties. Subsections (b) and (c) are Georgia’s “reform” provisions. Yet, Georgia is still among the nation’s harshest statuatory rape laws.

Is marriage a defense to SR?

What is the statute of limitations on statutory rape in Georgia? (See the next section).

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Statutory Rape?

All states have statutes of limitations (SOL) for all crimes being committed within that state’s boundaries. In the United States, age of consent laws regarding sexual activity are enacted by each state in America. Think of these SOL laws as the “time limit” for starting a prosecution.

In general, minor crimes are misdemeanors, and carry a short time period for a prosecutor to take legal action and charge the citizen. More serious felony crimes like statutory rape have a very long statute of limitations, which can be extremely long.

Retain a Sex Crimes Attorney Before Speaking to Police of Prosecutors

Occasionally, our prospective clients will learn that he (or she) is about to be charged with a sex crime, like statutory rape. If that person could simply understand that TALKING is the most harmful thing that our clients try to do (news story about Desmond Jones and John Golding trying to explain having sex with a minor).

Only your name and address are required to be given. After that let your criminal defense attorney do the talking, on your behalf. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and even on holidays. (404) 567-5515.

The sex crimes lawyer consultation is FREE. What not take advantage of the free consultation to learn how to protect your legal rights?

Common misspellings of the name of this felony crime, as found in Google searches:

  • statuatory
  • stachatory
  • stacitory
  • statuatory
  • stautory
  • News Link:
  • Statutory Rape laws by State
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