There are a great many misconceptions out there when it comes to defining “sexual assault” in New York. Many people may think it only means forced sexual intercourse, yet in reality, quite a few intimate acts could leave you facing a sexual assault charge.
This may even include instances where a sexual encounter you engaged in with another was consensual. This is due to the fact that the law recognizes that people of a certain age cannot give consent. Should you participate in sexual activities with such a person, you could face a charge of statutory rape.
New York’s statutory rape laws
Per Section 130.25 of New York’s Penal Law, you cannot engage in sexual intercourse with one under the age of 17. However, this law only applies if you are above the age of 21. Should authorities claim your actions qualify as criminal under this standard, you could face a charge of third-degree rape (which the state classifies as a Class E felony). That potential penalty increases to a Class D felony (and a charge of second-degree rape) if you are 18 years old and your alleged sexual partner was under the age of 15. The offense again sees in an increase in severity (to a first-degree rape charge accompanied by penalties for a Class C felony) if you are 18 years old and your alleged sexual partner was under the age of 13, or you supposedly (at any age) have sex with one who is younger than 11.
Defenses against statutory rape charges
Some might say that there is no defense to a charge of statutory rape (even if you can prove that the sex was consensual). However, that may not be the case. Reasonable belief that your partner was above the age of consent may help in answering such an accusation.