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Arlington Statutory Rape Lawyer

In Virginia, it is illegal for an adult who is 18 or older to have sex with someone who is younger than 15, even if the sex is consensual. Statutory rape is premised upon the belief or assumption that minors are not capable of giving consent, even if they are saying they give consent, because of their age. The inability to give consent is in the statute, which gives rise to the term statutory rape.

In Virginia, statutory rape is prosecuted under carnal knowledge. Statutory rape includes sexual intercourse between a minor who is younger than 13 and an individual of any age, but if the other individual is over 18 there are even harsher punishments. There is also carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15 years old. This includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, or penetration with an object between a minor who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and another person of any age, and which is also a felony. Someone facing any of these charges should consult an Arlington statutory rape lawyer who has experience dealing with sex crimes cases.

Prosecution of Statutory Rape in Arlington

When there is an alleged victim involved, the prosecution takes that incredibly seriously. If the victim is a minor in a statutory rape allegation, that only heightens the Commonwealth’s focus on prosecution. This only makes it more imperative that someone facing these charges work with an experienced Arlington statutory rape lawyer for their defense.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

In any rape case, the Commonwealth must prove three elements. First, that the defendant had sexual intercourse with another person or caused another person to engage in sexual intercourse with another person. Second, that it was against that person’s will or without their consent. Third, it was done by force, threat, or intimidation. While in general there are different types of rape, the Commonwealth must prove those three elements in a rape charge whether it is date rape or whether it occurred between two strangers. A statutory rape attorney in Arlington can work to contest these elements in a statutory rape case, but the elements of rape are the same, whether it happens with someone you know or a stranger.

Penalties for Statutory Rape

There are additional penalties in statutory rape cases where the rape is of a child under 13 years old. The Commonwealth must show that the defendant had sexual intercourse with a child or caused the child to engage in sexual intercourse with another person, and at the time of the act the child was under the age of 13. That is actually statutory rape in that situation. Rape of child under 13 is five years to life in prison, and if the offender is over 18 at the time, the punishment is a minimum of life in jail. Those are the unique punishments that are ascribed to statutory rape in Virginia.

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Arlington

Romeo and Juliet laws are laws that were developed in response to two young people who are dating or have some kind of relationship, and who have sexual intercourse. They were designed to prevent a sexual relationship between the two young people from being declared rape. Typically, a Romeo and Juliet law protects a consensual relationship between an adult and a minor, but typically, state the couple must be within three years of each other and the minor needs to be at least the age of 14.

It is basically designed for when an 18-year old is dating a 16-year old and they have consensual sexual intercourse. Virginia does not have a clear cut or defined Romeo and Juliet law, but there are close-in-age exemptions. The punishments are heavier when someone is over 18. Although there is not a Romeo and Juliet law on the books in Virginia, they do not punish that type of intercourse as much as they do for someone who is over 18 having intercourse with someone who is under 16. Consulting with an Arlington statutory rape attorney can help clear up the ambiguities in these cases.

Aspects of Statutory Rape Cases that Differ from Other Cases

One different aspect to statutory rape charges would be that it does not matter whether the alleged perpetrator knew the age of the victim. If the victim is under the age threshold in Virginia, whether the other person knew it or not, they can be convicted of statutory rape if the Commonwealth proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt. A person does not have to have knowledge that they are actually committing the offense, which is different than most offenses which require a mental mens rea element.

Consent does not play a role in statutory rape in Virginia because the laws have been designed to suggest that someone under a certain age in Virginia simply cannot consent, even if they are saying they do. It is not a defense to statutory rape and will not be a basis for acquittal on a statutory rape charge.

Defenses Against Statutory Rape Charges

Attorneys will look to build defenses in various ways, but they will want to make sure that the police acted in compliance with the constitutional mandate of search and seizure law and the laws of interrogation. If the police do not do so, the defense will perhaps move to suppress the evidence and have it excluded from trial. If they are able to exclude certain evidence, that could lead to a successful acquittal of the charge.

Additionally, experienced attorneys will speak with the accused to help gather any witnesses or evidence that may contradict the Commonwealth’s case. They will also cross-examine witnesses on the stand to help show that perhaps they were mistaken or biased or misremembering what happened. All of this will help show that the Commonwealth has not met their very high burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact an Experienced Arlington Attorney

People should look for a statutory rape attorney with experience in handling those cases. Experience is a key factor that can lead to success if someone is charged with statutory rape. Experience can provide the knowledge on how to proceed with police in the investigation. An Arlington statutory rape attorney can help determine how to proceed as far as pretrial motions, and he can help explain whether something is a fair offer.

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