Sexual offenses don’t always involve a lack of consent or an act of assault. Sometimes, there is a discrepancy in authority, intellect or age that leaves one of the parties less able to actively consent. 

When age is an issue in an intimate relationship, the potential exists for one partner in a relationship to face accusations of statutory rape. The only way to avoid allegations or charges of statutory rape is to inform yourself of the age of consent for the state of Missouri and to verify the age of anyone that you have an intimate relationship with prior to sexual activity.

First-degree statutory rape involves a child too young to consent

When someone faces charges of sexual assault in the first degree, that means that one of the people involved in the relationship is too young under Missouri law to knowingly consent to sexual activity. Anyone who engages in a sexual relationship with a child under the age of 14 could wind up charged with first-degree statutory rape as a result of that relationship.

Second-degree statutory rape involves older teens

For couples where both partners are over the age of 14 and therefore able to consent, it is still possible for statutory rape charges to result. Second-degree statutory rape charges typically stem from a situation where one partner is 21 years of age or older and the other is under the age of 17. While they may have both gone to the same high school at the same time, the gap in their ages is just significant enough for people to worry about power and maturity discrepancies that would lead to the older person manipulating and abusing the younger one. 

Making sure that you know the age of anyone that you become intimate with is the best way to protect yourself from statutory rape accusations. However, if you are charged with an offense, there may be options available to you that will help you defend against a criminal conviction that could very well impact you for the rest of your life.