The general definition of statutory rape involves having sexual contact with an individual who is under the age of consent. The age of consent is different depending on what state you are in. In Virginia, the age of consent is 18.
This means that a person over the age of 18 engaging in sexual contact with those under the age of 18 may face statutory rape charges. However, according to Age of Consent, Virginia does have a close-in-age exemption for minor teens.
The close-in-age exemption
These laws are also known as “Romeo and Juliet laws,” and not all US states have them. The idea behind close-in-age exemptions is to prevent minors from prosecution should they engage in sexual contact with other minors. If there were no close-in-age exemption laws, it would theoretically be possible for both a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old to face statutory rape charges if they engaged in sexual activity with each other.
Close-in-age exemption in Virginia
The close-in-age exemption laws in Virginia do not apply to persons over the age of 18. However, the exemptions allow individuals aged 15-17 to engage in sexual contact with each other, as well as individuals aged 13-15. Even though these individuals are under the age of 18 and still cannot consent to sexual activity with those who are not minors, they may legally engage each other in sexual congress.
Understanding age of consent laws in different states is vital to staying on the right side of the legal system. Always ensure that you know the age of your partner before engaging in any kind of sexual contact, including online messaging or sending pictures.