Your Comprehensive Legal Guide to Statutory Rape Missouri
Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
April 13. 2021.
Statutory Rape Missouri: Know the Facts
Statutory rape in Missouri is a crime for which someone may be charged without believing that they did anything wrong. Even if they think they are in a consensual relationship, an adult having sexual relations with someone who is significantly younger and under the legal age of consent may be accused of statutory rape. This is often done by the younger person’s parents, guardians, other family members, or authority figures like teachers.
Those who have been charged or accused of statutory rape in Missouri should retain the services of a reputable criminal defense attorney to reduce their chances of conviction and the harsh penalties that come with it. When you turn to the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center after learning of your statutory rape charges, we’ll work tirelessly to protect your rights, freedom, future, and reputation.
Understanding Missouri Statutory Rape Laws
According to Missouri statutory rape laws, a person over the age of 21 who has sexual intercourse or engages in sodomy or oral sex with someone under the age of consent can be charged with this crime.
The age of consent in MO is 17, as young people are easily persuaded or coerced into doing things they may not have chosen to otherwise. Keep in mind, however, that there is an exception to this rule.
Understanding Age of Consent and the Romeo and Juliet Law
There is one exemption to the age of consent in Missouri as a defining factor of statutory rape: the Romeo and Juliet Law. This states that if contact is consensual and one person is between 14 and 17 years of age, and the other is no more than four years older, there was no crime.
If either is younger than 14, however, it is always a punishable crime. A skilled attorney can help explain the intricacies of this sensitive topic.
Statutory Rape 1st Degree Missouri
Statutory rape in the 1st degree in Missouri is dictated primarily by the age of the victim. Survivors of sexual intercourse or sodomy under 14 years of age are victims of statutory rape in the first degree. It is considered child molestation and is, therefore, a Class A felony.
This offense is severe and requires an aggressive attorney with a background in the criminal defense of sex crimes, such as those at the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.
What Are the First Degree Penalties for a Statutory Rape Conviction?
Based on Missouri Revised Statutes 566.032 and 566.062, someone convicted of sodomy or statutory rape in the first degree is subject to five years of imprisonment or imprisonment for life. This sentence is increased if it is considered child molestation of a child under 12 years of age—the consequences for being found guilty result in imprisonment or a term of 10 years to life.
Having a knowledgeable legal presence in court can help mitigate the charges of a first-degree offense.
What Is Second Degree Statutory Rape?
A person being accused of this criminal offense should ask their attorney, “What is second-degree statutory rape In Missouri?” An individual commits this crime when their sexual activities are with someone under the age of consent. Since this can be confusing, it is essential to retain the services of a strong legal team.
A reputable lawyer will provide information, counsel, and advocacy to accused Missouri sex offenders. If necessary, they will plan a successful strategy and represent them in court.
What Are the Penalties for a Second Degree Statutory Rape Conviction?
According to Missouri Revised Statutes 558.002, 558.011, 566.034, and 566.064, for a conviction of the first offense of second-degree statutory rape or sodomy, an individual can expect to face a fine of up to $10,000. The authorized term of imprisonment is up to seven years as it is a Class D felony.
Although someone who receives a guilty sentence for having sexual intercourse or conducting other acts with a person under the Missouri age of consent could eventually petition to have their conviction expunged, this is a lengthy and complicated process.
Having a criminal record of any kind can make life more difficult. Many jobs and other opportunities will be unavailable to them. Having a skilled lawyer in their corner might ensure that they can successfully navigate the court system and put the incident behind them.
Statute of Limitations on Statutory Rape in Missouri
The statute of limitations on statutory rape in Missouri depends on whether it is a first-degree or second-degree offense. There is no statute of limitations for first-degree sodomy or statutory rape cases involving children under the age of 14. Second-degree charges, however, must be placed within three years of survivors becoming 18 years old.
If the Missouri statute of limitations is revised, victims must adhere to those that were in place when the incident occurred. As this can be confusing, it is wise to consult with an experienced legal office for information.
Statutory Rape Missouri Definition
Someone who is engaging in sexual intercourse with another person should be well-versed in the definition of statutory rape in Missouri to ensure he or she doesn’t inadvertently break the law. A person who has intercourse with a child age ten or younger faces life imprisonment.
Statutory Rape Defense Strategies
Someone accused of any crime, including child molestation or having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent, should remember that they have the right to remain silent. An individual often believes that they can make the arresting officer understand that they are innocent and will be released by explaining their point of view. If they are being arrested, anything they say can only harm their case.
They should be reminded of this when they are read their Miranda Rights; however, if the officer fails to inform them of this option in their best interest, it is not sufficient to get the case dismissed. However, there are several strategies that a reputable attorney can use to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Some of the most successful include the following:
- Age of consent was assumed
- Mistaken age
- Romeo and Juliet Law
- Sexual intercourse or other sexual acts didn’t occur
The only way to know the best strategy for an individual situation is to contact a law firm with experience defending men and women accused of the crime of sexual assault or statutory rape in Missouri.
Retaining a Criminal Defense Lawyer
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide information regarding Missouri revised statutes and other United States laws pertaining to consent laws and the punishment for breaking them. They will explain the section of the law that the person is being accused of violating and create a clear path forward for the defendant.
During the search for evidence, a knowledgeable attorney may assess any previous action or activity of the alleged victim for a pattern of behavior. Although a person charged with a crime of a sexual nature may feel they did nothing wrong, especially if they felt the other was a willing participant, they still may face stiff penalties, including imprisonment. A conviction has long-term effects, so contact a criminal defense lawyer to protect your interests.
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