Virginia Statutory Rape Lawyer

Statutory rape is a very serious charge in Virginia, carrying with it the potential for a felony conviction and years spent in jail depending on the ages of the accuser and the accused. While this situation may seem daunting, know that a dedicated Virginia statutory rape attorney can craft a defense and aggressive advocacy on your behalf. Become acquainted with the following information below in order to learn the benefits of retaining a lawyer and how they have the potential for making a difference in your case.

What Constitutes Statutory Rape Under Virginia Law

Statutory rape under Virginia law can be defined as sex with somebody who cannot consent. All individuals under age 18 are unable to provide informed consent under Virginia law in any circumstances. For anyone under the age of 13, all sexual acts are considered as statutory rape. This often applies to those between ages 13-15 as well. In these cases, all sexual contact is automatically defined as rape.

Romeo and Juliet Clauses

Know that there are no written Romeo and Juliet laws in the state of Virginia–generally, Romeo and Juliet clauses colloquially refer to the grace age between two individuals who are both very young and who are engaging in some kind of consensual sexual encounter. In Virginia, if the alleged victim is less than three years younger than the individual who is considered the perpetrator, it can be considered a misdemeanor offense as opposed to a felony offense.

Statutory Rape Allegations vs. Other Rape Cases

Most of these charges come about as a result of a third party allegation, where somebody’s parent calls the police because they have found out about a sexual relationship and wish to protect their child. The most important aspect of statutory rape includes the threat of age–if the defendant in the case is over 18, then it will automatically be charged as rape and the younger individual is not going to be able to be deemed to have consented. Even if they both admitted to thinking that one person could not get in trouble because the other is consenting, Virginia law still deems that individuals are unable to consent before turning 18. Many do not understand that ahead of time. Know that even if both parties claim to be in a consenting relationship, the laws decree that it is not something that is allowable when the younger individual is under 18.

Virginia Statutory Rape Penalties Following Conviction

Conviction penalties will depend on the age of the alleged victims or the situations that are involved. If the defendant is over the age of 18 and the individual is under the age of 13, the defendant will serve a mandatory 25 years to life in prison if convicted. They must also register as a sex offender, and will be placed on the sex offender registry for the rest of their lives.

However, statutory rape penalties differ from other rape charges because of their potential to contain mitigating circumstances–for example, if both parties involved were younger individuals in a consenting relationship. This is a situation that falls under the Romeo and Juliet clause and is charged as a Class Four misdemeanor that could potentially result in a fine rather than jail time. Know that there must be less than a three-year age gap between the defendant and the victim for Romeo and Juliet clauses to take hold, and that each case is unique depending on the circumstances.

Reaching out to a Statutory Rape Defense Attorney

An individual facing statutory rape charges should look for a zealous defense attorney who is going to have a firm grasp on the laws involved as well as what types of evidence can be used to prove the prosecution’s case and aggressively defend against it. That individual needs somebody who knows what loopholes to find or what problems the prosecution might have in proving their case, including what evidence can go in front of the jury and how the police can appropriately collect that evidence. More often than not these cases rest upon the constitutional issues where the police have violated some of these rights, and that will allow an attorney to attack the case in the most effective way. For this reason, it is paramount to seek an attorney who is familiar with what the laws entail, and who can use that law to form an effective defense.

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