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DC Statutory Rape Lawyer

Statutory rape is most commonly thought of as a sex offense against a minor. Many people are aware of the term statutory rape but under DC laws do not specifically use that term. DC law uses different terminology for different situations. The most common charge that is used in DC is sexual abuse of a minor. A minor is defined under DC law as any person under 18 years of age.

The common understanding of statutory rape is a sex offense in which a person commits against a minor or a child. If you have been accused of statutory rape, an experienced sex crimes attorney can help you defend your reputation. A DC statutory rape lawyer has the local understanding necessary to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Degrees of Sexual Abuse in DC

Under DC law, there are two degrees of child sexual abuse. Second Degree child sexual abuse is when a person engages in sexual contact with a child or causes that child to engage in sexual contact. The offense typically includes an individual at least four years older than the child committing the sexual contact. DC statutory rape lawyers can review the facts of the case with a potential client to clarify the role of age within their case.

That child is considered under DC law to be anyone under 16 years of age. First Degree sexual abuse is when a person engages in a sexual act with the child or causes the child to engage in a sexual act. The person committing the sexual act has to be more than four years older than the child. DC laws criminalize sexual abuse of a minor, meaning anyone under 18 years of age. DC law also has two degrees of sexual abuse of a minor.

Defining Second Degree Sexual Abuse

Second-degree sexual abuse of a minor is when a person who is over the age of 18 engages in sexual contact with a minor or causes that minor to engage in a sexual contact. However, the person must have a significant relationship with the minor such as a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or grandparent. That kind of relationship could also include a legal guardian relationship or include the kind of close relationship.

Significant Relationships

A significant relationship is defined as a relationship of parents, sibling, aunts, uncle or grandparent relationship. That kind of relationship could also include a legal guardian relationship or include the kind of close relationship of a school official to a child, a church official or other religious institution or any other kind of position of authority over the child.

First-degree sexual abuse of a minor also requires a significant relationship with a minor that criminalizes a sexual act with that minor. Anyone facing these charges should reach out to a DC statutory rape lawyer who can help them collect relevant evidence for their defense.

These are the most commonly charged offenses in DC that would often be thought of as statutory rape. There is also a misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child or a minor which criminalizes engaging in especially suggestive conduct with a child or minor.

Unique Elements of the Charge

Allegations of statutory rape, or what D.C. law defines or refers to as child sexual abuse, are very different from other kinds of rape allegations between adults. Allegations of sexual abuse involving adults are subject to a consent defense and this is possibly one of the biggest differences between child sexual abuse and adult sexual abuse allegations.

Role of Consent

An affirmative defense in allegations of sexual abuse of an adult is that the accuser consented to the sexual act or sexual contact. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either the complainants or complaining witness did not consent to the sexual act or contact, was not capable of consenting, or was incapable of expressing consent.

That is not the case in allegations of child sexual abuse. In these cases, a DC statutory rape lawyer will not present a consent defense. This is because a child legally does not have the ability to consent to any kind of sexual act or sexual contact.

Romeo and Juliet Clauses

Romeo and Juliet clauses are typically thought of as exceptions from statutory rape or child sex abuse offenses. The situations that Romeo and Juliet’s clauses are intended to prevent are situations where a 17-year-old is accused of committing statutory rape by engaging in consensual sexual activity with a  younger significant other. Romeo and Juliet clauses are intended to exempt these situations from being considered sex crimes or sex offenses.

DC has a Romeo and Juliet clause in the child sex abuse statutes. Under the definition of both Second Degree child sex abuse and First Degree child sex abuse, there is a requirement that the defendant is at least four years older than the child.

There is no such Romeo and Juliet clause for the sex abuse of a minor statute because sexual abuse of a minor requires a significant relationship between the defendant and a minor. A 19-year-old can still be charged with sex abuse of a minor against a 17-year-old because of that significant relationship. There is no requirement as to the age difference between the people involved.

Why a DC Statutory Rape Attorney Is Necessary

Charges of this nature carry severe sentences and lifelong repercussions, should they lead to a conviction. Even before the court reaches a decision, the social stigma and employment consequences are significant. Therefore, it is important to work with a local and experienced attorney in building a defense, so as to best contain and mitigate any potential damages resulting from the case.

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