If you plan to engage in sexual relations in the state of Georgia, it is vital to understand how the age of consent laws work.
According to the 2010 Georgia Code § 16-6-3, the age of consent in the state of Georgia is 16. This means that if you are an adult over the age of 16, and you have sexual relations with an individual who is 15 years or younger, you could be held liable for statutory rape.
However, there are some exceptions to this hardline rule, and proving statutory rape is not always easy for prosecutors. From criminal defense attorney Kim Frye, here’s a brief explanation of Georgia’s statutory rape laws.
What counts as statutory rape?
Georgia’s law states that a person commits statutory rape when they do the following things:
- Have sexual intercourse,
- With someone under the age of 16,
- And that person is not his or her spouse
Punishments for statutory rape vary by the age of the defendant.
- If the defendant is under 21, the crime is punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison
- If the defendant is over 21, the crime is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison
- If the defendant is under 18, under some circumstances (see below), the crime may be classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
Finally, if the victim is a girl under the age of 10, the crime is considered forcible rape, which is punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison, and can even lead to the death penalty (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1).
What are the common defenses against statutory rape?
There are some exceptions to Georgia’s statutory rape law. Here are the common defenses:
- Romeo and Juliet exception: The law contains a provision commonly known as the “Romeo and Juliet exception,” which is intended to prevent teenagers of a similar age from being charged with a felony for having consensual sex. The crime may be charged as a misdemeanor if the following conditions are met:
- The defendant is under 18
- The victim is at least 14 and under 16
- The defendant is no more than 4 years older than the victim
- Mistake of age: Georgia does not consider “mistake of age” as a valid defense against the charge of statutory rape. This means that, no matter how old somebody may look or even if the person lies about their age, this is not a defense against statutory rape if you are the older party.
- Marriage: One antiquated aspect of Georgia’s statutory rape law is that it does not count as statutory rape if the defendant and victim are married. However, a person can be found guilty of forcible rape, which is a more serious charge, if they force their spouse to have sex against their will (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1).
What to do if you’re charged with statutory rape
If you are accused of statutory rape, the most important thing you can do is contact an experienced defense attorney.
One important thing to note is that a jury can’t convict you of statutory rape solely based on the word of the victim. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 states, “no conviction shall be had for this offense on the unsupported testimony of the victim.”
This means that the prosecution must have some other evidence to corroborate the accuser’s statement, such as witness testimony or even documented prior statements by the accuser.
Contact Frye Law Group to get started on your defense today
Our team of attorneys at Frye Law Group knows how to protect you when the government wants to jail you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.