Press-Republican

Columns

November 19, 2013

The Law and You: Statutory rape

In New York state, it is a criminal sex offense for one person to have sex with another who is younger than 17 years old. 

The statute declares that a person younger than 17 is legally “incapable of consent,” even if that person is actually a willing participant. This is what is commonly called “statutory rape.” 

The law protects young people, sometimes in spite of themselves.

In 2001, New York’s sex offense definitions were revised. 

AGES SIGNIFICANT

There are three degrees of rape and of several other sex offenses. In many of these, the ages of the parties have a significant effect. 

It is always first-degree rape when force is used or when anyone older than 16 has sex with a child younger than 11 years old. It is the same degree of seriousness if a person 18 or older has sex with someone younger than 13. 

First-degree rape carries mandatory state prison time.

What may surprise you is that it is also felony rape for an 18-year-old to have sex with someone who is younger than 15 or for a 21-year-old to have sex with a person who has not yet turned 17. 

That four-year age difference is crucial — a lesser age gap will still be a crime if one party is younger than 17, but it will be a misdemeanor instead of a felony. 

If both are 16 years old, neither is legally capable of consent, yet both can be charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct.

‘POSITION OF TRUST’

The district attorney’s office and the courts see quite a few of these cases. 

They fall into at least three categories.

In one of those, an older person, often a male but not always, persuades or intimidates a child into sexual activity. An adult may “groom” a child for sexual contact when the child does not really understand what is going on. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time