Have you ever heard the phrase statutory rape? The word statutory modifies the word following to mean not real rape, but a legal fiction created by a statute. Why not real rape? Because statutory rape refers to sex crime prosecutions against a person involved in a consensual sexual relationship. The crime requires that one of the pair is too young. The law would strip away the younger person’s right to consent or not. The law would criminalize sexual activity by a person under a certain age.
Age of Consent
What age? Laws relating to the age of consent vary from one state or jurisdiction to another. In Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes, the most important age is set at 16. Most age-based sex crimes apply to persons under the age of 16. Some, however, apply to persons under the age of 18. Minnesota’s statutes relating to the minimum age for a legally recognizable marriage in Minnesota sets that age at 18;, 0r 16 years, with the consent of the person’s legal custodial parents, guardian, or the court. Minnesota Statutes Section 517.02.
Throughout human history, however, the age of consent and marriage has generally been the age of adolescence. Even today, it varies in the various states of the United States, and in the various nations of North and South America.
Romeo and Juliet laws
In Shakespeare’s masterpiece Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was not yet fourteen years old. Romeo’s age was unstated, but has been generally viewed by scholars to have been much older. Minnesota’s sex crime laws criminalizing age make an exception for lovers who are, though young, close enough in age. This is evidence of the cultural view that age should not be criminalized for lovers close in age, but should criminalize it for a lover who is “too old.”
Question? Call Minneapolis Sex Crimes Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher at (612) 333-1500.