According to the independent website AgeofConsent.net, there is an exemption in West Virginia, commonly referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet Act”, which can legalize voluntary sex between two minors.
Approximately half of the US states permit children under the minimum age to marry with distinctive permission from their parents or courts. According to the Guardian, among the nearly 250,000 American teenagers who married in the middle of 2000 and 2010, there were children as young as 10 years old.
Fortunately, West Virginia is enacting legal laws to diminish these loopholes.
What Is The Age Of Consent In The United States?
A person under the legal age isn’t allowed to legally consent to activities involve sex. Sexual abuse in the US varies between 16-18 years as per the standardized law by individual states, which means that an individual younger or exactly 15 years old is not allowed to legally consent in any sexual activity. Each state, including West Virginia, enacts state laws that dictate the consent age.
Besides this law, if someone has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under the age of sexual consent in this state, he/she may be charged with lawful rape, Statutory Rape, or other offenses depending on interaction sort out between him and her.
United States Age of Consent Chart
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Are There Any Defenses To Age Of Consent In West Virginia?
There are more or fewer defenses obtainable to the age of consent in West Virginia that depend on the nature of criminal sexual acts. Historically, there were no defenses against the age of consent – it was called a liability crime. At that time, prosecutors only had to prove the age of the victim and the existence of a sexual assault, which was sufficient for a conviction. However, over time, things are being changed and awareness is basic run.
Now there are measures against statutory rape laws in West Virginia, depending on certain aspects, which includes the age difference between individuals or the age of the victim predominantly. Nevertheless, limits still apply!
In West Virginia, the law accused the one, who is very close to the age of the victim, is punished for the lesser period (rigorously), as per the proximity. When both individuals are minors, West Virginia’s law allows the protection as per the “Romeo and Juliet” law. This law serves as either a complete defense against charges of an offender or a factor related to the seriousness or nature of the crime over underage.
Defenses Against Age Of Consent (Statutory Rape)
Here are the few defenses one can pursue with the help of an attorney against the age of consent.
- The age can save an offender from being charged. This defense can be raised when underaged is actually not underage. He/she might believe his/herself at 17 and does not realize actual age, which is 18. If this is the case when the age of consent is not under 18, the offender will not be prosecuted.
- A reasonable mistake may occur in age depending on circumstances. This defense rises when someone shows his/her false age as to be more than 18, though the actual age is 15 or around. This happens when only a misdemeanor looks older than his/her age. This way, another person believes in victims’ age initially and could save himself once trapped.
- When a victim is married to an offender, having sex can defend and save the offender from prosecution. This means, once an offender is married to a single age, there is no crime to be considered.
- Innocence is always considered as a defense in West Virginia. When the reporting occurs from a third party and there is a mutual understanding between two partners due to their desires, the prosecution cannot be processed.
What Are The Punishments For Violating The West Virginia Age Of Consent Law?
Legally rape is one of the serious criminal offenses in most jurisdictions, and the legal information institute carries a lengthy sentence (115 years on average) and heavy fines of around $100,000. The meticulous class of the offense committed (crime, misconduct, etc.) largely depends on the comparative ages of the offender and the victim. In West Virginia, convictions for offender leads to lifetime catalog as a sex offender.