Indiana’s Statutory Rape Laws

Sex crimes are some of the most serious charges a person can face, particularly those involving minors. Statutory rape is one of those serious crimes, carrying life-altering consequences if the accused is found guilty. This crime also carries a number of complicated rules and exceptions, making it difficult to understand.

Being charged with statutory rape or other sex crimes in Indiana can put you in prison, lead to heavy fines, and put you on the sex offender registry for the rest of your life. Before taking any risks, you need to understand the ins and outs of laws like this and how you can avoid a costly mistake.

Defining Indiana’s Statutory Rape Laws

Under Indiana Code 35-42-4-9, a person over 18 who knowingly engages in sexual acts with someone under 16 has committed statutory rape. Even if the underage participant was willing, this is still a serious crime with heavy penalties. The severity of the penalties depends largely on the age of the one charged.

Statutory rape also applies when someone engages in sexual contact with a person suffering from mental disabilities. If they are unable to understand the consequences of a sex act or understand that one is occurring, it is illegal to perform those activities with them. Before sexually pursuing someone, it is vital that you know their age and that they can truly consent, or you may face criminal charges.

Strict Liability for Your Criminal Charges

Statutory rape is illegal regardless of intention or consent. Even if someone enthusiastically agrees to sex, if they are found legally unable to consent in Indiana, the person over 18 can still face statutory rape charges.

Why Age Matters to Indiana Law

Age is an important factor in statutory rape cases, not just for the victim but also for the perpetrator. The classification for the crime changes depending on how old the defendant was at the time of the act, from a year in jail to twelve years in prison. No matter how old you are, this is not the sort of accusation you should take lightly.

Penalties for Statutory Rape in Indiana

The penalties you can face for statutory rape depend largely on your age at the time it was committed and whether the alleged victim was seriously injured in a violent incident. They include the following:

  • If you are under 21, it is a Level 5 felony with up to 6 years in prison under IC 35-50-2-6
  • If you are older than 21, it is a Level 4 felony with up to 12 years in prison under IC 35-50-2-5.5
  • If statutory rape is committed under threat of force, it is a Level 1 felony, with possibly up to 40 years in prison under IC 35-50-2-4

These offenses include a maximum $10,000 fine, no matter what level of felony it is. You will also likely be required to register on the Indiana Sex & Violent Offender Registry, which will hinder your opportunities for the rest of your life. This status will also seriously affect your reputation and ability to perform many key tasks, such as finding a job or housing.

You May Be Eligible for Alternative Misdemeanor Sentencing

Under Indiana Code 35-50-2-7, it is possible for the lowest level of felony to be reduced to a misdemeanor. This can result in up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine, though this is far more lenient than a felony charge.