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North Carolina’s Statutory Rape Laws and Potential Penalties Statutory rape is prosecuted under North Carolina’s rape and sex crime laws. § 14-27.23 (2017).) First degree statutory rape includes vaginal intercourse between a child who is 12 or younger, and a defendant who is 12 or older and at least four years older than the victim. Penalties depend on the ages of the defendant and victim, and the conduct that occurred, as described below. Of course, rape that does involve force or an assault is illegal in North Carolina and prosecuted as forcible rape. Assaults of a sexual nature may also be charged under the state’s assault and battery laws.

If the defendant is four or more years older than the student, the crime is a Class G felony; if the defendant is less than four years older than the student, the crime is a Class I felony. The exemption allows consensual sex between a married minor and that minor’s adult spouse, even though their ages would prohibit it if they were not married. However, if Tony were to rape Jen (force her to have sex against her will), he would have no protection under the law even if the two are married.

§ 14-27.30 (2017).) Sexual activity by a substitute parent or custodian involves vaginal intercourse, oral or anal sex, or penetration with an object or body part other than the penis, between a child and an adult who has assumed the role of parent in the child’s home or has custody of the child. A lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

Laws can change over time, and numerous defenses may apply to statutory rape charges.

In North Carolina, it is also a crime to engage in vaginal intercourse, oral or anal sex, or penetration with an object or body part other than the penis, with a student if the defendant is a: For example, an assistant coach who engages in sexual activity with a student could be convicted of the crime of sexual activity with a student. North Carolina has a marital exemption for some statutory rape crimes. This is because North Carolina has a marital exemption to the state’s statutory rape laws.

Penalties can include fines, jail (or prison) time, or both. Defendants charged with statutory rape have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, such as “Someone else committed this crime,” or “The alleged conduct did not occur.” But under North Carolina's laws, there are some other important potential defenses in statutory rape cases. But if Jen and Tony are and living in North Carolina, Tony need not fear criminal charges for having consensual sex with Jen.

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