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Understanding Indiana’s statutory rape laws

Under the law, the term "sexual offenses" refers to a variety of acts and each is classified separately. Term like forcible sex offenses versus non-forcible sex offenses, rape versus statutory rape, degrees of accused crimes and more can all be very confusing, especially to someone against whom a claim is made.

Indiana State Police statistics show a total of 160 instances of recorded forcible sex crimes and 8 non-forcible sex offenses in Kenton County in 2011. While these numbers may not seem daunting, they should be taken seriously as any such charge can create havoc for an accused person for a lifetime, especially if the charge involves a minor.

Understanding the laws and terminology governing sexual offenses can be helpful in preventing or fighting false claims.

What are the levels of statutory rape?

Most people understand that statutory rape involves sex with a minor but few likely understand the varying degrees and associated definitions. In Indiana, there are actually seven levels of statutory sexual offenses. They are:

  • First degree rape - sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 12 and a defendant of any age.
  • Second degree rape - sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 14 where the defendant is under the age of 18.
  • Third degree rape - sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16 where the defendant is under the age of 21.
  • First degree sexual abuse - sexual contact with someone under the age of 12 with a defendant of any age.
  • Second degree sexual abuse - sexual contact with someone under the age of 14 with a defendant of any age.
  • Third degree sexual abuse - sexual contact with someone 14 years of age or older where the defendant is less than five years older than the victim.
  • Sexual misconduct - sexual intercourse, oral sex or anal sex with someone under the age of 16 and a defendant of any age.

It is important to note that statutory rape charges are often misdemeanors as Indiana law prohibits the prosecution of felony rape if the victim is under 14 years old and the defendant is under 18 years old or in cases where the victim is between the ages of 14 and 16 and the defendant is younger than 21.

Clearance rates for sex offense charges

Recorded statistics show a higher rate of clearance in Indiana for incest and statutory rape charges than for other sexual offenses. State data from 2011 indicates that 58 percent of all statutory rape charges were cleared and 56 percent of all incest charges were cleared. That compares to 31 percent, 27 percent and 26 percent for fondling, sodomy and rape, respectively.

Representation matters

If you have been accused of a sexual offense against a minor, getting the right legal help as soon as possible is critical. Without the right criminal defense , you are at greater risk for convictions and harsher consequences that could last years.

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