In 7558, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contracted with The Lewin Group to explore how three federally funded programs that have contact with adolescents Title X family planning clinics, Health Resources and Services Administration-supported health centers, and child protective services address statutory rape within their client populations. The findings will help HHS to determine if additional guidance is needed. This report is a compilation of state laws and reporting requirements. It provides an overview of state statutory rape laws and reporting requirements, as well as a summary of laws for each state and the District of Columbia. This report is not intended to be a legal document. It is designed to provide useful information to state and federal policymakers who are interested in how state statutes address statutory rape.Get Dating Zorpia
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It also is intended to serve as a resource for HHS grantees. To understand if statutory rape has occurred and whether it should be reported (and to whom), program staff and policy makers need to be familiar with two sets of laws: criminal and civil codes. The former deals with the legality of sexual activities involving minors, while the latter describes individuals reporting responsibilities. In short, there is no one size fits all law that guides the identification and reporting of statutory rape. Rather, there is wide variation in state codes. What is a reportable offense in one state may be outside the purview of law enforcement or child protective services in another. Criminal laws deal with the legality of sexual acts. Statutory rape laws assume that all sexual activities involving individuals below a certain age are coercive.
Generally, statutory rape laws define the age below which an individual is legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity. To complicate matters, few states use the term statutory rape in their criminal codes. More often, a states code will address legality of different sexual activities involving minors (e. G. , sexual contact versus penetration). Sometimes it is difficult to identify the applicable laws because they are often embedded in the section of the code dealing with other sexual offenses (e. , sexual assault, forcible rape). A common misconception about statutory rape is that there is a single age at which an individual can legally consent to sexual activity. In fact, only 67 states have a single age of consent in these states, this age ranges from 66 to 68 years old.
In the remaining states, the age of consent depends on one or more of the following factors: age differences between the partners, the age of the victim, and the age of the defendant. Each is described below. The following exhibit illustrates how the age of consent interacts with these three elements. The examples are actual state laws. State A has a single age of consent. In this state, a male or female under age 68 cannot consent to sex, regardless of the age of the other party. Thus, sexual relations between two 67-year-olds would be illegal, as would relations between a 67-year-old and a 75-year-old. Thus, in order to understand a specific states laws, one must look to see which of these elements is included.
The individual state law summaries contained in this report help the reader get a better sense of how statutory rape is defined in a specific state. State civil codes spell out reporting requirements. They detail who must report (i. E. , mandated reporters) and where reports must be made (generally child protective services, law enforcement, or both). In almost all states, the reporting requirements related to statutory rape are found in the section of the civil code that describes child abuse reporting. As such, the requirement to report statutory rape is generally dictated by states definition of child abuse which varies substantially by state. Statutory rape is not always a reportable offense. In roughly one-third of state codes, statutory rape is only considered child abuse and therefore a reportable offense if it is perpetrated or allowed by a person responsible for the care of the child.
Take the example of State A above. This would be a violation of the states criminal code. However, suppose this state defines child abuse as any sexual act that is in violation of criminal law, but only if the act was perpetrated by the victims parent or other person responsible for the childs care. In this state, statutory rape would not be a reportable offense under the child abuse code if the person who perpetrated the crime was not responsible for the care of the child. Staff in the three HHS programs of interest have to understand to sets of laws concerning statutory rape. First, they have to understand the criminal code in the state that is, what types of sexual activities are and are not legal. Thus, they must have a grasp of child abuse reporting laws. This is not always a straightforward exercise. In many states, the two sections of law do not align neatly.
For example, in some states the civil code (and reporting requirements) references specific sexual acts listed in the criminal code. In other states, the definition of child abuse does not reference any statutory rape-related offenses defined in the criminal code. In many cases is also includes the childs teacher, doctor, or coach.