Virginia Statutory Rape Lawyer
Statutory rape under Virginia law involves consensual sex where one partner is a minor, both partners are minors and one of them is less than 13 years old, or both are minors and the age difference between the participants is greater than three years.
There are numerous resources dedicated, and significant efforts that are placed, into investigating rape-related offense in Virginia by the police, and then prosecuting them by the Commonwealth. This is because of the nature of the crimes and the potential possibility of permanent injury, whether physical or psychological, to the victim. They are some of the most serious kinds of crimes and therefore can result in some of the most severe penalties if there is a conviction. For this reasons, anyone accused of this offense should consult with a Virginia statutory rape lawyer to assist in building a defense.
Unique Aspects of Statutory Rape
The main difference between a statutory rape and other kinds of rape cases is that statutory rape charges almost always involve a sexual act that is consented to by both parties. In other words, there is no force or threat of force that takes away the free will of another person. So the presence of consent in the act is not typically going to be a defense.
Even in scenarios where there is a mistake of fact and the person believes the child to be older than they are, that mistake is not going to be a defense that is applicable for a statutory rape attorney in Virginia to use.
Penalties in Virginia
The penalties for statutory rape in Virginia can be identical to the penalties for rape in some cases. For example, the rape of a child less than 13 years old by an adult, even if that is consented to, will be treated as a rape under Virginia law and receive the same penalties.
On the other hand, there are a number of different variations of the law which include everything from the less serious crime of sex between persons between 13 and 16 years old to crimes by persons over 18 with someone who is between 13 and 16 years old and consenting. The penalties can range all the way from class 4 misdemeanor on the low end which carries a maximum fine of $250 all the way up to life imprisonment on these harsher end and where the sex act involves an adult and a child who is less than 13, even if they are consenting.
Romeo & Juliet Laws
Romeo and Juliet laws’ generally refer to statutes which make sex between minors illegal but recognize that in certain circumstances it is less serious. So for example, in Virginia, if there is a sexual act involving consenting minors while both of them are over age 13 and neither of them is 3 years or older than the other, it is a class 4 misdemeanor which is punishable by only a $250 fine.
Hiring An Attorney
The main thing that a person should look for in a Virginia statutory rape lawyer is legal experience. There is no substitute for having tried and dealt with many statutory rape cases over a person’s career. There are particular kinds of evidence and very particular kinds of defenses and approaches that are used in these kinds of cases which are not found in other areas of the law, so it is extremely important to have someone who has done these kinds of cases and had success before.
Building a Defense
Experienced lawyers build defenses in statutory rape cases by looking at the specifics of each case and the facts of each case in detail. In some cases, a mistake of fact will offer a defense. In other cases, it is a question of whether the act occurred at all and whether the victim is credible. But it is specific to every kind of case and only by talking to an experienced Virginia statutory rape attorney can you find out for sure what defense is likely available to you.