Originally published on Sept 22, 2020
Under the law, the age of consent refers to the age by which a person can legally consent to sexual intercourse. This usually varies per state.
In New York, the age of consent is 17 years old. This means that if you engage in sexual intercourse with anyone below 17, you’re essentially committing statutory rape – even if it’s consensual. Though the punishments vary depending on the circumstances, jail time is almost always a part of it.
What Constitutes Statutory Rape?
To protect minors from unknowingly consenting to sexual predators, statutory rape laws are created. They are based on the assumption that minors are not capable of giving informed consent to sexual activities.
In New York, statutory rape can be classified into several sexual abuse charges depending on the circumstances. Some of them are:
1. Second Degree Sexual Abuse
An offender commits second-degree sexual abuse when he/she engages in sexual contact with a victim who is:
- below 14 years old
- above 17 but is incapable of giving consent for any other reason.
2. First Degree Sexual Abuse
This is when sexual contact happens between:
- a victim who is less than 13 years old and an offender who is 21 years old or older;
- an offender of any age and a victim who is less than 11 years old;
- the victim is physically helpless;
- the offender threatened or physically forced the victim to engage in a sexual activity
3. Second Degree Rape
A sexual relationship can be considered second-degree rape when:
- the offender is 18 years or older while the victim is less than 15 years old;
- when the victim is incapable of consent because he or she is mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated
4. First-degree rape
If any of the following circumstances are true, the crime is considered first-degree rape:
- the offender is 18 years and older while the victim is under 13 years old;
- when the victim, who is physically helpless
5. Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child
A person is guilty of this charge if he/she is at least 18 years old and has committed the following crimes to a victim who is younger than 13:
- first-degree rape
- first-degree criminal sexual act
- first degree aggravated sexual abuse
6. Third Degree Criminal Sexual Act
This happens when the offender who is 21 years old or more engages in oral or anal sexual conduct with someone below 17 years old.
7. Second Degree Criminal Sexual Act
When an offender who is at least 18 engages in oral or anal sexual conduct with someone who is under 15 years old, they can be charged with this crime.
8. First Degree Criminal Sexual Act
This crime happens when:
- the offender (of any age) engages in an anal or oral sexual act with a child below 11 years old;
- the offender who is 18 years old and above engages in an anal or oral sexual act with anyone below 13.
9. Third Degree Aggravated Sexual Abuse
A person commits third-degree aggravated sexual abuse when he/she inserts a foreign object into another’s vagina, urethra, penis, rectum, or anus, causing physical injury to such person, and the person is
- incapable of consent due to mental disability or mental incapacity
- below 11 years old
- physically helpless
10. Second Degree Aggravated Sexual Abuse
A person is guilty of this crime when he/she inserts a finger into another’s vagina, urethra, penis, rectum, or anus, causing physical injury to such person and the victim is:
- less than 11 years old
- physically helpless
Each of the above sexual abuse charges carries a penalty depending on its severity.
Class A Misdemeanor
Charges: second-degree sexual abuse
Punishment: up to 1 year in prison
Class D Felony
Charges: second-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree criminal sexual act, third-degree aggravated sexual abuse
Punishment: maximum of 7 years in jail
Class C Felony
Charges: second degree aggravated sexual abuse
Punishment: prison term of not more than 15 years
Class B Felony
Charges: first degree aggravated sexual abuse, first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree rape
Punishment: 5-25 years in jail
Class A-II Felony
Charges: predatory sexual assault against a child
Punishment: at least 25 years in prison
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.