Matters involving statutory rape can be complex, and the consequences for the person accused of violating the law are often severe. Even if you have a reasonable explanation or defense against the investigation or allegations, speaking with a knowledgeable Charlotte or Concord statutory rape defense lawyer is one of the best steps that you can take to ensure that you are doing everything that you can to have the charges dropped or reduced. At the Olsinski Law Firm, we have represented people throughout North Carolina who are being investigated for statutory rape and have defended people against these charges. We understand how stressful this situation is for you and how disruptive it can be for your personal and professional life. Let us assist you in pursuing the fair outcome that you deserve.North Carolina Statutory Rape Laws
According to North Carolina law, the legal age of consent is 16. This means that people under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse even if they engage in the activity willfully. The older person in the situation can be accused of statutory rape even if the parties have been involved in a committed relationship. This can be damaging for young people who have their entire lives ahead of them.
Like many other states, however, North Carolina has adopted a so-called Romeo & Juliet exception to its statutory rape law, which permits minors under the age of 16 to engage in sexual intercourse with someone who is less than four years older. This means that a minor who is 15 could engage in sexual activity with someone who is 18. A statutory rape defense attorney in Charlotte or Concord can help determine whether this exception may apply to your case.
North Carolina law has divided statutory rape charges into different categories based on the age of the victim and the age difference between the parties involved. For situations involving sexual intercourse with a minor who is between 13 and 15 and a six-year age gap, the defendant faces a Class B1 felony charge. This felony carries a prison sentence of 144 months to life without parole. For situations in which the victim is between 13 and 15 years old, and there is a four-year age gap between the parties, the defendant faces a Class C felony charge. This felony carries a prison sentence of 44 to 182 months. The prosecution must show in either instance that the parties were not legally married.
An individual’s prior record may play a role in determining the appropriate sentencing. North Carolina has assigned point values to felonies. Each prior conviction is worth a number of points, and the total points for a defendant’s entire record are used to determine whether a harsher penalty will be assessed.
Defendants who are convicted of statutory rape must register as a sex offender on top of serving a prison sentence. This has long-term consequences because the registry is a public database that will affect your professional and personal life. Thus, you should promptly consult a Charlotte or Concord statutory rape defense attorney who can fight to keep your name off the registry.Defenses to Statutory Rape
North Carolina does not acknowledge the defense of mistaken age in statutory rape cases, which means that the court will not give any weight to evidence or testimony indicating that the victim misrepresented or lied about his or her age. Even an honest mistake regarding the victim’s age can still put someone at risk of facing statutory rape charges.
There are some defenses that may apply to your situation, however, particularly when it comes to the procedures that law enforcement officials used to gather evidence against you. If they failed to abide by due process requirements, such as having probable cause to search your home or vehicle, any evidence that they collected as a result of that unlawful search may be suppressed. If you have an alibi or other proof that you were not at the location where the alleged sexual conduct happened, or evidence showing that you did not have a sexual relationship with the alleged victim, this can also be used to get the charges dismissed.Meet with a Dedicated Statutory Rape Defense Lawyer in Charlotte or Concord
Knowing what to do when you are facing a serious charge like statutory rape can be difficult. At the Olsinski Law Firm, we offer compassionate and committed legal counsel to individuals throughout North Carolina, including in Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Cornelius, Davidson, Pineville, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Midland, Mount Pleasant, and other areas of Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties. Call our Charlotte office at 704-405-2580 or our Concord office at 704-918-4747, or contact us online. Our attorneys have handled a wide variety of sex crime cases, including statutory rape, and we are prepared to put our skills and experience to use for you.