The laws determining the age of consent in the State of Oklahoma can be confusing. In this article we discuss Oklahoma's age of consent laws, the Romeo and Juliet exemption, punishments for statutory rape, and address some frequently asked questions.
What is the Legal Age of Consent in Oklahoma?
The legal age of consent in the state of Oklahoma is 16 years old. But there's more to understanding the law than this...
Oklahoma is one of many states in the U.S. that incorporates an age differential into their laws concerning age of sexual consent.
This is sometimes called a Romeo and Juliet Law.
Oklahoma's Romeo and Juliet Law
The state of Oklahoma has a close-in-age exemption for statutory rape. The close-in-age exemption, better known as the "Romeo and Juliet law", was implemented to prevent the prosecution of couples under the legal age (18) who engage in consensual sex when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both are below the legal age.
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Basically no person can be convicted of rape or rape by instrumentation with anyone over the age of 14, with that person’s consent, unless the defendant was older than 18 at the time the sexual act occurred.
Oklahoma Statutory Rape Laws
Under Oklahoma law, sexual intercourse with a person considered legally unable to consent is considered statutory rape. Oklahoma statutes include the following as unable to give legal consent:
- Those under the age of 16 (legal age of consent in Oklahoma)
- Those incapable of giving legal consent due to mental illness or unsoundness of mind (temporary or permanent)
- Those under the supervision or legal custody of a state agency, county, municipality, or political subdivision who engage in sexual activity with an employee or contractor of the authority. This includes relationships between teachers and students, even if the student is between the ages of 16 and 20.
Statutory rape is a strict liability crime. This means prosecutors are NOT required to prove that an assault occurred. But it is still classified as rape under the Oklahoma penal code.
Definition of Consent in Oklahoma
Now, Oklahoma has passed a law to create a definition of sexual consent and to add unconsciousness and intoxication as circumstances of forcible sodomy. Read more about forcible sodomy here.
The new law defines reads as follows:
The term "consent " means the affirmative, unambiguous and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter which can be revoked at any time. Consent cannot be:
1. Given by an individual who:
- is asleep or is mentally or physically incapacitated either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, or
- is under duress, threat, coercion or force; or
2. Inferred under circumstances in which consent is not clear including, but not limited to:
- the absence of an individual saying "no " or "stop ", or
- the existence of a prior or current relationship or sexual activity.
The new law, a provision of the Justice for J.W. Act of 2016, takes effect immediately.
Legal Dating Ages
There is no law stating a legal "dating age ". The laws apply only to sexual intercourse. Here is a detailed explanation.
If a person under 16 chooses to willingly engage in sexual intercourse, the state of Oklahoma deems that person legally unable to give consent. If a 19-year-old high school senior had "consensual " sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, he would be guilty of second degree rape under Oklahoma law.
Punishment for Statutory Rape in Oklahoma
Under Oklahoma sentencing guidelines, he would be subject to up to 15 years in prison and would have to register for life as an aggravated sex offender. Additionally, if the couple were found to have engaged in oral sex, the young man could be found guilty of forcible oral sodomy, which carries up to a 20-year sentence for the first offense.
If the victim is under the age of 14, the defendant may be charged with first degree rape, which carries a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison . While the above example describes an older boyfriend and younger girlfriend, Oklahoma statutory rape laws are not specific to gender.
A woman over the age of 18 who has sexual intercourse or oral sex with a boy under the age of 16 is guilty of statutory rape. The law also applies to same-sex relationships. Oklahoma statutory rape is a strict liability offense. This means that, regardless of the intent, if a person over the age of 18 has sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16, he or she is guilty of statutory rape.
Whether the encounter was consensual and whether the couple were in a steady relationship are of no consequence. If the sex occurred, the statutory rape occurred. Accusations may come from angry parents or may come from the under-aged partner as a result of a breakup or fear of getting in trouble.
Statutory Rape Legal Defense
If you have been accused of second degree rape in Oklahoma, knowledgeable legal defense can help you avoid being convicted of a sex crime. The prosecution must prove not only the victim's age at the time of the alleged sexual encounter, but must also prove that sexual intercourse occurred. An experienced statutory rape defense lawyer will look at mitigating circumstances, including prior false accusations, and will place the burden of proof on the prosecution.
For more information check out our coverage of rape crimes throughout Oklahoma.
Sexual assault crimes carry a significant penalty and should be tried by an experienced law firm. Contact us for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does age of consent mean?
The age of consent is the age at which a person is legally capable of consenting to sexual acts with another individual.
What are age of consent laws?
Age of consent laws set the age at which a person is considered legally competent to consent to a sexual act. They also lay out the punishment for adults who are caught engaging in a sexual act with a person who is younger than the age of consent in their jurisdiction.
What are the charges for violating age of consent laws in Oklahoma?
Adults who violate the age of consent laws in Oklahoma are charged with statutory rape.
Is it legal for a student to have sex with a teacher in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma's statutory rape laws prohibit sex between any student under the age of 20 and any employee of the same school system who is 18 or older.
What is the statute of limitations for statutory rape in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, when the victim is under 18 years of age the statute of limitations is the alleged victim's 45th birthday. For victims 18 years and older the statute of limitations is 12 years.
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