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Understanding statutory sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania

As teens and young adults, many people throughout Pennsylvania experience love for the first time. If they decide to act on their feelings, however, what should be a special time and experience may result in serious criminal charges. Depending on a couple’s ages, getting intimate with a partner could be considered statutory sexual assault.

The legal age of consent in the state of Pennsylvania is 16-years-old. As such, state law defines statutory sexual assault as sexual intercourse that is not forced with someone under that age. Furthermore, the older partner must be at least four years older than the minor for sexual intercourse to qualify as this offense. According to the Pennsylvania Courts, the exception to the statutory sexual assault rules is when the couple is married.

Under Pennsylvania state law, statutory sexual assault is a felony offense, which may carry serious penalties. If the accused is between four and eight years older than his or her alleged victim, or between eight and 11 years older, then he or she may be charged with a second-degree felony. A conviction on this sex crime charge may result in a fine of up to $25,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. In cases when those accused are 11 years, or older, than their partners, they may be charged with a first-degree felony. Being convicted of this offense could also result in fines of up to $25,000, in addition to a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Statutory sexual assault is a serious offense, which carries potentially severe and life-changing consequences. As such, those who have been charged with this sex crime may benefit from obtaining legal counsel. An attorney may work with them to establish a criminal defense, as well as help them understand their rights and options.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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