Sexual Assault In Rhode Island
It is illegal in Rhode Island for a person to have sex with a minor, which in this case pertains to anyone under the age of sixteen. The act is still considered illegal if the sex was consensual. This law is based on the idea that children in this age group are incapable of giving informed consent to any sexual act. Each state has its own set of rules regarding statutory rape with varying ages of legal consent.
The history behind statutory rape dates back 800 years, with the first law of its kind originating in England. The law was created at first to protect unwed young girls from being taken advantage of by older men. The first ages of consent ranged from 10-12 years old. Later on, it was raised to the ages of 16-18 in the US and around the world and became a more gender-neutral law. The laws first considered physiological maturity and then grew to consider psychological maturity based on scientific evidence.
Statutory Rape Cases in Rhode Island
Statutory rape cases are not considered assault, and even though they are considered rape, they are prosecuted under Rhode Island’s sexual assault and child molestation laws. The classification for this crimes is:
- Third-degree sexual assault: This is when the sex takes place between anyone at least 14 but under 16 years of age and someone who is 18 or older. Even if the act was consensual, this is considered stautory rape. If you receive a conviction for this, you can get up to 5 years in prison. The age differences is very important in this matter as that is the difference between statutory rape and child molestation, which is a more serious charge.
Defenses For Statutory Rape
Defenses for statutory rape can include the following:
- The “Romeo and Juliet” exception applies to teenagers having sexual intercourse within their own age group. Anyone 14 and older but under 18 fall under this protection. This does not apply to minors under the age of 14, they are not allowed to consent to anyone of any age under the state law.
- Misinformation is a common defense, as most convicted people claim that they thought the victim was older. Some people look older and more mature than their chronological age, and this can create legal issues. Even though this is a common mistake, Rhode Island will not allow this as a defense.
- Unlike first degree sexual assault, third degree, or statutory rape comes with a three year statute of limitations.
Should I Seek Legal Help?
If you or a family member faces third degree sexual assault charged it is crucial to contact a Rhode Island sexual assault defense attorney now. A good attorney will protect your rights. It is possible that you will have to register as a sex offender. Contact the Law Office of John MacDonald today if you or someone close to you has been charged with statutory rape or any type of sexual assault charges.