What Is The Legal Age Of Consent?

Age of consent refers to the age when an individual can legally engage in sexual activity. However, the age of consent may differ based on state as well as the age of the other participant. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the legal consent age in your particular situation before being involved in sexual activity in Pennsylvania.

Understanding The Legal Age Of Consent In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Legal Age Of ConsentThe legal age of consent in Pennsylvania is considered to be 16 years or older. The law clearly states that it is illegal to engage in any sexual contact with an individual who is 15 years or younger. There can be serious penalties imposed that incorporate hefty fines and jail time.

According to Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), children who are younger than 13 years cannot give consent for any sexual activity. Teenagers who are between 13 and 15 years are not permitted to give consent to any sexual activity with someone that is 4 years or more older.

What is consent?

Consent refers to the agreement to engage in sexual activity. However, consent does not apply in the following situations:

  • When the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • If the individual is unconscious or asleep
  • If the person is has certain mental or physical disabilities
  • When the individual is younger than the age of consent in Pennsylvania

Individuals who are 16 years old are permitted to give consent for sexual activity. However, the other person must not be older by more than 18 years, and if they are then the older individual can be convicted of minor corruption charges. Individuals engaging in sexual activity with someone younger should be careful about Pennsylvania’s institutional sexual assault statute.

Penalties Imposed Based On Different Sex Offenses In Pennsylvania

Some of the sex-based offenses and their penalties based on Pennsylvania age of consent are as follows:

  • Indecent Assault: Indecent assault refers to a sexual act in which the other person does not give consent. This may involve force or threat. 

For this crime, the penalties may differ based on the degree of misdemeanor or felony. In a second-degree misdemeanor, an individual can be sentenced to 2 years of jail time. For a first-degree misdemeanor, 5 years of prison time can be sentenced. And for a third-degree felony, an individual can be sentenced to 7 years of jail and a hefty fine of $15,000.

  • Aggravated Indecent Assault: Aggravated assault refers to indecent assault along with penetration. Penalties for a second-degree felony can include up to 10 years of prison time, and a first-degree felony can be up to 20 years of jail time. 
  • Statutory Sexual Assault: This is regarded as a criminal offense when 
  • One individual is of 13 years and the other is 17 years or older
  • One individual is of 14 years and the other is 18 years or older
  • One individual is of 15 years and the other is 19 years or older
  • Institutional Sexual Assault: The imbalance in certain relationships may make consent impossible. The sexual assault will be regarded as a felony institutional sexual assault when the following people are involved in any sexual act:
  • Teachers 
  • State jail
  • Personal care in a home
  • Licensed residential amenities intended for the betterment of youth

Defenses Provided For Statutory Rape Charges

Defendants who are convicted of statutory rape may present suitable defenses. There are various defenses possible under Pennsylvania statutory rape laws: 

  • Marriage: The state of Pennsylvania has an exemption of marriage for statutory rape. Under this exemption, even if both partners are minors they can legally engage in sexual activity. 
  • Both individuals are minors: This is popularly known as Romeo and Juliet exception. As per this exemption, if both individuals engage in sexual intercourse and they are 13 years or older, they will be exempted from any statutory rape charges. However, if a minor who is under 13 engages in sexual activity, it is considered a crime and can impose serious penalties on the defendant. 
  • Age misconception: Some individuals use age misconception as a strong defense against statutory rape cases. They claim that the individual has not informed the defendant the actual Pennsylvania age of consent and so the defendant was misled.   

It can be a tricky situation attempting to claim whether or not a relationship or instance of sexual contact was legal. Therefore, if you have been convicted of any sexual criminal offense, it is best to speak with a lawyer. A Sexual Assault Lawyer is someone who can guide you if you are facing sex crime accusations. They will help you understand all the options that exist for you and your particular scenario.