Kentucky has strict laws regarding when a person can consent to sexual relations. The laws are designed to protect minors from being involved in a sexual relationship while they are vulnerable and still maturing. 

The age of consent is 16 years old in Kentucky. A minor under the age of 16 cannot give legal consent to have sexual relations. Even if the sex is consensual, it is still against the law. 

What Is Statutory Rape in Kentucky?

If a person over the age of 18 years old has sex with a minor under 16 years old, they are guilty of statutory rape. The penalty for statutory rape depends on the age of the parties. 

The penalty increases as the age of the minor decreases. The potential punishment for statutory rape in Kentucky is as follows:

  • 1 to 5 years in prison as a Class D felony if the minor is under 16 years old
  • 5 to 10 years in prison for a Class C felony if the minor is under 14 years old
  • 20 to 50 years in prison for first-degree rape when the child is under the age of 12 years old

In addition to a prison sentence, you are labeled a sex offender. You must register as a sex offender, which can severely impact your life. It impacts where you can live and your future career opportunities. 

Does Kentucky Have a Romeo and Juliet Law?

Kentucky does not have a Romeo and Juliet Law. Some states make exceptions to the rules for consent when both people are minors or are close in age, such as 18 years old and 17 years old.

However, a 17-year-old can date an 18-year-old. If they have consensual sexual relations in Kentucky, the 18-year-old should not be charged with statutory rape since the age of consent is 16.

Age is not the only reason a minor might be unable to consent to sexual relations. For example, even if the minor is 16 years old, lack of consent could apply in cases where the minor is physically helpless or incapacitated. 

A minor who cannot understand or communicate consent cannot give consent, such as in the case of a mental illness. Additionally, a 16-year-old cannot consent if the sexual activity was committed under compulsion or forced upon the minor. 

New Law That Addresses a Substantial Difference in Age

Even though a 17 and 18-year-old might engage in consensual sex in Kentucky, it does not mean that every 16-year-old can engage in sexual relations legally. Kentucky passed a law that makes it illegal for someone to have sex with a minor if they are more than ten years older than the minor. For example, it is illegal for a 27-year-old to have sexual relations with a 16-year-old. 

The older spouse would not be guilty of statutory rape if the parties were married. However, the legal age for marriage is 18 years old. Nonetheless, a 17-year-old can ask the court for permission to marry someone who is no more than four years older than them.

What Should I Do if I Am Charged With Statutory Rape in Louisville, KY?

If you are accused of statutory rape, do not try to contact the alleged victim or their family members. Also, do not talk to the police without a lawyer present. Nothing you say to the police can help your case.

Instead, contact a Louisville statutory rape lawyer for help. A criminal defense lawyer investigates the charges against you to develop a defense strategy. Possible defenses to charges of statutory rape in Kentucky include:

  • Mistake of age
  • False allegations
  • Violations of constitutional rights
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Both people were underage and close in age

The facts of the case determine the type of defense a Louisville criminal defense attorney uses. Defending a statutory rape case is challenging. First, you must overcome the age of consent issue.

Therefore, contact a lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with a sex crime. The stakes are very high. The sooner you have legal counsel, the better your chance to beat the criminal charges. 

Contact the Louisville Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

For more information, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (502) 371-7000 or visit us at our Louisville law office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers
214 S Clay St A
Louisville, KY 40202

(502) 371-7000