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What Constitutes Statutory Rape?

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2015 | Firm News

In Montana, the legal definition of rape is “sexual intercourse without consent.” As inferred by the name, it simply means that one person was subjected to intercourse without being a willing participant. But what is meant by statutory rape? It is not a term found in the state code governing sexual assault.

Statutory rape occurs under certain circumstances that also constitute sexual intercourse without consent. The focus is on the consent component. In a case of alleged rape, there may be a disagreement as to whether the intercourse was consensual. A case that goes to trial will leave it up to a jury to decide whether non-consensual intercourse occurred.

But under state law there are circumstances of sexual intercourse that will be deemed sexual intercourse without consent as a matter of law. This occurs when the victim is in a category of persons which the law states cannot give consent. The most common category is persons under 16 years of age. The State of Montana believes that a person that age is not capable of giving consent. Other categories include, but are not limited to, persons who are mentally defective, physically helpless, and incarcerated in a correctional facility.

Penalties for statutory rape are dependent on the ages of the victim and perpetrator. If the victim is under 16 and the perpetrator is less than four years older, the sentence can be as little as two years and as much as life in prison. If the victim is under 16, and the perpetrator is four or more years older, the sentence can be no less than four years, but as much as life, in prison. If the victim is less than 13 years old and the perpetrator is over 18 years old, the sentence is 100 years in prison with no chance of serving less than 25 years unless other statutorily provided mitigation factors apply.

The lawyers at Tipp & Buley are experienced in criminal defense. We know the complexities of the criminal code, including dealing with sexual assault and rape. If you need representation in a criminal case, call us at 406-389-4215 to schedule a confidential, one-on-one consultation, or visit our website online.