Statutory Rape crimes are increasing in number, very likely due to the ever-lowering age of sexual maturity of both girls and boys, combined with the ever-increasing age in which adults are considered old enough to marry. Many times, teenagers are becoming sexually active at age 15 or younger, while their parents are urging them not to marry until after college (or even older). This leaves single and sexually mature teenagers and adults between the ages of 14 to 25, resulting in increased violations of the law prohibiting sexual consent under the age of 18. The Tennessee Statutory Rape Law considers sex to be non-consensual solely by virtue of the ages of the people involved.
No consent by a person under the age of 18 is considered valid regardless of their words or actions consenting to the sexual act. There are three grades of statutory rape in Tennessee: Mitigated, Standard, and Aggravated Statutory Rape:
MITIGATED STATUTORY RAPE:
- the victim is 15-17 years old, and the defendant is 4 years older than the victim;
- A Class E felony which carries, for most offenders, 1-2 years and up to 6 years for those with an extensive criminal record;
- No sexual offender registry required.
STANDARD STATUTORY RAPE:
- the victim is 13-14 years old, and the defendant is 5-10 years older than the victim, or
- the victim is 15-17 years old, and the defendants is 6-10 years older than the victim;
- A Class E felony which carries, for most offenders, 1-2 years and up to 6 years for those with an extensive criminal record
- Sex Offender Registry if ordered by the court or if the person has a prior statutory rape convictions.
AGGRAVATED STATUTORY RAPE:
- the victim is 13-17 years old and the defendant is more than 10 years older than the victim;
- A Class D felony carrying 3-4 years for most offenders and up to 8 years for those with an extensive criminal record;
- Mandatory Sex Offender Registry.
Knowledge of the age of an alleged victim is not a requirement to be convicted of Statutory Rape. In past years, the Tennessee State Legislature repealed statutes making the lack of knowledge of the age a defense. The crime does have “knowing” element, requiring the state to prove the crime with committed with knowledge by the defendant. As always, a jury is a constitutional requirement before a conviction and with sufficient fraudulent statements of the alleged victims age, the jury may decide the “knowing” element of the crime was not proven.
We have defended many types of statutory rape charges involving all genders, sexual preferences, and ages. Each type of case has unique factors. One theme that seems to run through all cases is that the report of the crime is often delayed and there is seldom any physical evidence. Therefore, the prosecution is often based on admissions either to police or from texts and other electronic evidence. Before speaking to the government, always consult a criminal defense lawyer with experience successfully defending people charged with statutory rape before marking any statements. If you are accused and need representation please call us at 615-444-3995.