In the United States, age of consent laws regarding sexual activity are made at the state level.
There are several federal statutes related to protecting minors from sexual predators, but laws regarding specific age requirements for sexual consent are left to individual states, territoriesand the District of Age law for dating in texas. Depending on the jurisdiction, the legal age of consent ranges from age 16 to age In some places, civil and criminal laws within the same state conflict with each other.
While the general age of consent is now set between 16 and 18 in all U. Inthe age of consent was set at 10 or 12 in most states, with the exception of Delaware where it was 7.
The final state to raise its age of general consent was Hawaii, which changed it from 14 to 16 in Age-of-consent laws were historically only applied when a female was younger than her male partner.
By ages of consent were made gender-symmetric. In Mississippi became the last state to remove this provision from its code. The laws were designed to prosecute people far older than the victims rather than teenagers close in age; therefore prosecutors rarely pursued teenagers in relationships with other teenagers even though the wordings of the laws made some close-in-age teenage relationships illegal.
After the Landry and Forrest study concluded that men aged 20 and older produced half of the teenage pregnancies of girls between 15 and 17, states began to more stringently enforce age-of-consent laws to combat teenage pregnancy in addition to prevent adults from taking advantage of minors.
Kercher of the Criminal Justice Center of Sam Houston State University wrote that these laws are often referred to as "Romeo and Juliet laws", though they defined Romeo and Juliet as only referring to an affirmative defense against prosecution. On June 26,both heterosexual and homosexual sodomy became legal between non-commercial, consenting adults in a private bedroom in all U. Supreme Court Age law for dating in texas Lawrence v. Limonthe Kansas Supreme Court used Lawrence as a precedent to overturn the state's "Romeo and Juliet" lawwhich prescribed lesser penalties for heterosexual than homosexual acts of similar age of consent-related offenses.
From onwards states have started to enact Jessica's Law statutes, which provide for lengthy penalties often a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring for the most aggravated forms of child sexual abuse usually of a child under age Inin Kennedy v. Louisianathe Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the death penalty for rape of a child was unconstitutional.
The act has to be illegal under state or federal law to be charged with a crime under band can even be applied to situations where both parties reside within the same state but use an instant messenger program whose servers are located in another state. This subsection is ambiguous on its face and seems apply only when the minor is transported across state or international lines to a place where the conduct is already illegal to begin with.
The United States Department of Justice seems to agree with this interpretation. So, the age is 12 years if one is within 4 years of the toyear-old's age, 16 under all other circumstances.
This most likely reflects Congressional intent not to unduly interfere with a state's age-of-consent law, which would have been the case if the age was set to 18 under all circumstances. This law is also extraterritorial in nature to U.
Citizens and Residents who travel outside of the United States. Although legislation tends to reflect general societal attitudes regarding male versus female ages of consent, Richard Posner notes in his Guide to America's Sex Laws: Supreme Court held that stricter rules for males do not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution, on the theory that men lack the disincentives associated with pregnancy that women have, to engage in sexual activity, and the law may thus provide men with those disincentives in the form of criminal sanctions.
The Assimilative Crimes Act 18 U. Consequently, if an act is not punishable under any federal law such as 18 U. However, in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessionsthe Supreme Court held that in the context of statutory rape offenses that criminalize sexual intercourse based solely on the ages of the participants, the generic federal definition of "sexual abuse of a minor" requires the age of the victim to be less than There is also a mistake-in-age defense if the minor is over 12, but not if the minor is under Within the United States, United States servicemembers are further subject to the local state law both when off-post.
The local state law is incorporated, for the most part, into federal law when on-post per the Assimilative Crimes Act 18 U.
Depending upon the relevant status of forces agreementUnited States servicemembers are also subject to the local criminal laws of the nation for acts committed off-post. The age of consent in the District of Columbia Age law for dating in texas 16 with a close-in-age exemption for those within four years of age.
According to the Code of the District of Columbia, a relationship is considered "significant" if one of the partners is:. As of August 1,the age of consent in each state in the United States is either 16 years of age, 17 years of age, or 18 years of age.
The most common age of consent is 16,  which is a common age of consent in most other Western countries. These state laws are discussed in detail below. Most of these state laws refer to statutory rape using other names instead of "statutory rape" in particular. Nevada criminalizes "statutory sexual seduction" while Pennsylvania criminalizes "statutory sexual assault".
In most states there is not a single age in which a person may consent, but rather consent varies depending upon the minimum age of the younger party, the minimum age of the older party, or the differences in age.