Age of Consent in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, it is illegal for an adult (someone over the age of 18) to have sex with a minor (someone under the age of 15), even when the act is consensual for both parties. The law in practice, however, is much more complex than age. For some less-experienced criminal defense attorneys, the complexities of sex crime cases can be a daunting task to undertake.
It is well understood that children and teenagers cannot consent to sexual intercourse in the same way that two adults can. Known as the “age of consent,” this statute protects children under the age of 16 due to differences in the mental capacity and maturity necessary for two individuals to consent to sexual intercourse.
However, this does not mean that an adult should suddenly open their dating pool to include teenagers—strict penalties and charges on the basis of statutory rape can easily carry lifelong consequences and considerable jail time and fines.
The “Romeo and Juliet” Law
Some states (including Oklahoma) have a close-in-age exemption for two consenting minors who engage in sexual intercourse. Known colloquially as the “Romeo and Juliet” law, two individuals over the age of 14 (but under the age of 18) can knowingly and willingly consent to sexual intercourse with one another.
For example, a 15 year old can continue dating a 17 year old partner even after the older partner finishes high school as long as both parties are minors during the periods they are consenting to sexual intercourse.
It is worth noting that sexual intercourse with any minor under the age of 14 is always a serious crime, and a conviction can result in life imprisonment. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and sexual intercourse with any minor under the age of 18 should generally be avoided by adults even when there is a close-in-age exemption in effect.
Legal Consequences of Statutory Rape
Being convicted of statutory rape (consensual sexual intercourse with a minor over 14, but under 16) also known as second-degree rape, can carry severe penalties against the defendant. Cases of sex with minors are tried on a per se basis, meaning that the act will be charged as a crime regardless if there was malicious intent or other mitigating circumstances. You can’t argue that they consented, because under the law minors cannot consent to sexual acts.
Commonly, those charged with statutory rape will defend their actions by insisting that a minor said they were older than they actually were. In fact, this is seen as an admission of guilt and should be avoided at all costs.
Consequences of a second-degree rape conviction include:
- Jail time (between 1-15 years);
- Large fines (up to $100,000); and
- Possible lifelong registration as a sex offender.
The fact remains true—no crime is worth the lifelong repercussions that follow it and the damage it can have on both the victim and the defendants’ lives.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
When faced with a criminal charge of statutory rape, the odds may feel stacked against you. It is your word against the word of a minor, who may elicit sympathy on the basis of age alone. But simply “not knowing their age” is not a valid defense, as discussed previously. If you face these types of charges you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your best interests.
For expert legal insight regarding a sex crime case or to discuss the details of your upcoming court date, contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.