While not as severe a crime as rape and other sexual offenses, statutory rape is still a serious crime in Virginia that comes with harsh penalties. In addition, a conviction can cause long-term consequences on a person’s life. Because of this, it is crucial to retain an experienced sex crimes defense attorney in Fairfax if you have been arrested for this crime.
Statutory Rape Offenses and Penalties in Virginia
In Virginia, it is illegal for an adult who is 18 years old or older to have sex with a minor even if it is consensual. It is assumed that minors under 18 years old are not able to give informed consent to sexual activities under statutory rape laws.
There is more than one criminal offense that an individual can be charged with. They include:
- Rape. An adult can be charged with rape under Virginia’s general rape statute, which is Virginia Code § 18.2-61, for having sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 13 years old. Rape is a felony crime, and the punishment if convicted ranges from a minimum of five years to life in prison.
- Carnal knowledge. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-63, it is a crime for an adult of any age to have carnal knowledge of a minor who is between 13 and 15 years old. Carnal knowledge can include sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or penetration with an object. This crime is a Class 4 felony. If convicted, a person can be sentenced from 2 to 10 years in prison and fined up to $100,000, or both.
Romeo and Juliet Laws in Virginia
Like many states, Virginia has a Romeo and Juliet exception to statutory rape charges. It is designed to protect teens engaging in consensual sex and applies to minors under 18 years old. The consenting minor must be less than three years younger than the accused person.
However, this exception is limited. It is still a crime to engage in consensual sex, but the charge is reduced to a Class 4 misdemeanor. The punishment may include a jail sentence or fine.
Sex Offender Registry Requirement If You’re Convicted of Statutory Rape
If you are convicted of a statutory rape crime, you may be required to register on the Sex Offender Registry. This can have many consequences on your life. The registry is public and may be searched by prospective employers or others. It can make it more difficult to find a home to rent, and you may be prohibited from being near certain places, such as schools, playgrounds, and other locations where children may be. In addition, the police would be able to monitor your location and employment.
Failing to register on the registry is a criminal offense. A first offense is a misdemeanor that can result in a 12-month jail sentence and/or a $2,500 fine. Any subsequent violation is a Class 6 felony, and the punishment is a prison sentence of up to five years.
Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to have your name removed from the Sex Offender Registry after a number of years. However, you must meet all the requirements of your sentence to be eligible for this. In addition, you must file a petition and attend a court hearing. The judge’s decision to grant your request is discretionary.
Why You Need an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Fairfax
If you have been charged with statutory rape, it is essential to retain an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer as soon as possible to avoid the harsh punishment and life-long consequences of a conviction. You may have strong defenses to the charges that you face that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. In criminal cases, this can be true even a person is guilty of committing the crime.
At Greenspun Shapiro PC, our skilled lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of individuals charged with criminal offenses in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia. We can help you mount a strong defense so that you achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. To learn more about how we can assist you, start an online chat to schedule a free consultation today.