Statutory rape is treated as a serious crime in Virginia. If you are charged with statutory rape in or near the Roanoke area, you must contact a Roanoke criminal defense attorney at once for the sound legal advice and the aggressive defense representation you will need.

What constitutes statutory rape in Virginia? What are the penalties for a conviction? What legal defenses can be offered against a statutory rape charge? What steps should you take if you find yourself under arrest and charged with statutory rape in or near the Roanoke area?

Keep reading, because those questions will be answered in this brief discussion of statutory rape laws in Virginia. Of course, if you’re the person who faces a statutory rape charge, you will need personalized legal advice – and the services of the right Roanoke criminal defense lawyer.

What Constitutes Statutory Rape in Virginia?

In Virginia, an adult (anyone who is 18 or older) commits statutory rape by having sex with a minor under the age of 15, even when that sex is consensual. The law presumes that a minor of this age does not have the capacity to give informed consent to sexual activity.

Statutory rape in Virginia is prosecuted as “rape,” as “carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15 years old,” or even as “causing or encouraging juvenile delinquency.” Almost every time someone is charged with sexual assaults they are also charged with related child abuse crimes.

Virginia’s rape law includes a provision that makes it a felony for anyone of any age to have sexual intercourse with a minor who is younger than 13 years of age. A conviction for this type of rape charge is punishable with a prison sentence of five years-to-life.

What Are the Other Statutory Rape Charges and Penalties?

“Carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15 years old” includes genital, oral, or anal sex, or penetration with an object, between a minor 13 or 14 years old and any adult. An adult who is convicted may be penalized with a fine of up to $100,000 and two-to-ten years in prison.

When a defendant is below the age of 18 but is three or more years older than the victim, a conviction for carnal knowledge of a child may be penalized with anywhere from one year to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500.

However, when both the victim and the perpetrator are minors and the age difference is less than three years, carnal knowledge of a child is usually charged as a misdemeanor, and a conviction is usually penalized with only a fine.

“Causing or encouraging juvenile delinquency” includes intercourse and oral or anal sex between a minor who is 15, 16, or 17, and a defendant who is at least 18 years old. The charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

What Are the Other Consequences of a Statutory Rape Conviction?

If you are an adult who is convicted of any statutory rape charge, you will not only be handed a harsh sentence by the court, but you will also have to deal – for many years into the future – with the considerable extra-legal consequences of a conviction for statutory rape.

When you seek employment, loans, or housing, for example, your applications may be rejected if the conviction shows up on a background check. You can forget about attending certain colleges and universities after a statutory rape conviction.

If you are an immigrant residing in this state, a conviction for statutory rape could put you at risk for deportation. If you hold a professional license in Virginia, a conviction on a statutory rape charge will almost certainly trigger a disciplinary move by your professional licensing board.

Finally, if you are charged with a subsequent crime, you will already have a prior conviction on your record. These are among the many reasons why you must be advised and defended by the right Roanoke criminal defense attorney if you face any statutory rape charge in Virginia.

What Will a Defense Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?

When you contact a Virginia criminal defense attorney regarding a statutory rape charge, that attorney will carefully listen to you explain what happened. Any charge of rape or sexual assault requires a thorough examination of the facts by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Your defense attorney will find any mistakes in the state’s evidence against you and identify any inconsistencies in the claims of the alleged victim. If you are the victim of a fabricated statutory rape accusation, your attorney will use every legal tool available to uncover the truth.

Your defense lawyer will probably attempt to have the charge against you dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed by the judge. If the case proceeds, and if you are innocent, you should discuss with your attorney your right to a trial by jury.

At trial, your lawyer will explain what happened and will ask the jurors to acquit you. However, if you are in fact guilty of statutory rape, and if the state’s case against you is strong, your lawyer may recommend avoiding a trial, accepting a plea deal, and pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

What Are the Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge?

A defendant who is accused of statutory rape in Virginia should rely on a defense attorney’s knowledge and experience regarding the best defense strategy. If you believe that no statutory rape took place – or that someone else did it – that is the first thing you should tell your attorney.

Under certain conditions in Virginia a minor who is 16 years of age or older may legally become emancipated, and an emancipated minor may marry and have intercourse with his or her spouse, even if their ages would prohibit the act if they were not married.

Statutory rape defendants frequently claim that they did not know the victim was a minor. They may additionally claim that the victim plausibly lied about his or her age. However, mistaking the other person’s age is not allowed as a defense to statutory rape in Virginia.

When Should You Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you have been charged with any crime of a sexual nature, you must retain a defense attorney’s services at the earliest possible opportunity. The right defense lawyer will protect your rights, advocate aggressively on your behalf, and bring your case to its best possible outcome.