An individual must be of a certain age to legally consent to sexual activity or intercourse in Missouri. Children who are younger than the age of consent are not viewed as having the capacity to give their consent or agree to sexual contact with another person. This means sexual activity with someone below the age of consent could result in prosecution for the crime of statutory rape.
What Is the Age of Consent in Missouri?
The age of consent in Missouri is 17 years old. This is the minimum age at which an individual is legally able to consent to participate in sexual activity. Anyone who is under the age of 17 cannot consent to sexual intercourse, even if he or she gives permission to engage in the sex acts. There is no such thing as getting consent from someone under the age of 17 in Missouri. Engaging in sexual intercourse with an individual under 17 violates Missouri’s statutory rape law.
What Is Statutory Rape?
Revised Statutes of Missouri, RSMo Section 566.032 defines statutory rape as having sexual intercourse with a person who is less than 14 years of age. This is a first-degree felony for which the authorized term of imprisonment is life or no less than five years in prison. It is an aggravated offense, however, if the victim is less than 12 years old. This crime comes with a minimum of 10 years in prison. While Missouri’s statutory rape law focuses on intercourse with children, it can be used to prosecute someone who has had sexual contact with a teenager if he or she is younger than 17.
Does Missouri Have a Romeo and Juliet Law?
Many states have a close-in-age exception for their statutory rape laws, often referred to as Romeo and Juliet Laws (after Shakespeare’s famous love story involving two teenagers). This exception permits a minor to consent to sexual activity if the other person involved is close in age, such as two teenagers who are only a year apart.
Missouri does have a Romeo and Juliet Law that can protect two teenagers from facing criminal charges for engaging in consensual sexual activity. This exception states that if the defendant is under the age of 21 and the plaintiff is between 14 and 17 years old, it is not statutory rape or a sexual assault crime if both parties gave their consent.
However, if the defendant turns 21, the plaintiff must be at least 17 years old for the Romeo and Juliet Law to apply. It is against the law for someone who is 21 or older to have sex with anyone under the age of 17, even if the couple previously fell under the protection of the close-in-age exception.
Other Sex Crimes Involving Minors
Statutory rape is not the only crime that can be charged against someone who engages in sexual activity with a child under the legal age of consent in Missouri. Any type of sexual contact, conduct or activity with a child under the age of 17 could result in criminal charges. Examples include:
- Child molestation
- Child sexual abuse
- Child pornography
- Indecent exposure
- Enticement of a child
- Child used in sexual performance
- Genital mutilation
- Child sex trafficking
- Statutory sodomy
These crimes come with severe penalties. Most come with a mandatory prison sentence of 5 years, 7 years, or 10 years to life in prison. It is not a defense to these crimes to state that the minor gave his or her consent to the sexual activity, as consent cannot be given by someone under the age of 17.
Are You a Survivor of Sexual Assault or Statutory Rape?
If you or a loved one was taken advantage of for sexual purposes under the legal age of consent of 17 years old in Missouri, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a statutory rape claim. Contact an attorney today to learn more about your rights and legal options.