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Statutory Rape Laws In Tennessee

What is the Age of Consent in Tennessee?

A sex crime conviction is one of the most severe you can endure. Because sex crime laws vary, you may not know for sure what is legally considered statutory rape in your state. It is important to be aware of these laws in order to avoid being charged with a sex crime.

In the state of Tennessee, the age of consent is 18 years old. Statutory rape occurs when there is sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of consent (18). In Tennessee, statutory rape is divided into two main categories: statutory rape and statutory rape by an authority figure.

Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is the sexual intercourse with a minor who is 13 or 14 years old by an adult who is at least four but less than 10 years older than the minor. For example, a 21 year old can be charged with the statutory rape of a 13 year old.

It is also considered statutory rape when there is sexual intercourse with a victim who is 15, 16, or 17 years old by a defendant who is more than five but less than 10 years older than the victim. An example of this would be that a 23 year old can be charged with the statutory rape of a 16 year old.

Statutory rape is considered a Class E Felony, punishable by one to six years in state prison and a fine of up to $3,000.

Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure

Statutory rape falls under this category when the defendant was in a position of power over the victim at the time of the sexual act.

Statutory rape by an authority figure occurs when

  • The victim is at least 13 but less than 18 years old.
  • The defendant is at least four years older than the victim.
  • The defendant had authority over the victim at the time of the crime (ex. A supervisor at work).
  • The defendant had parental/custodial authority over the victim and used that power to accomplish the sexual penetration (ex. A foster parent)

Statutory rape by an authority figure is recognized as a Class C Felony in Tennessee, punishable by three to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Those convicted are also ineligible for probation.

The ‘Close-In-Age’ Exemption

You may be wondering, what if both parties are below the age of consent?

The ‘close-in-age’ exemption, also known as the Romeo and Juliet law, makes it legal for two parties who are over the age of 13 but under the age of 18 to engage in consensual sex.

This exemption also allows minors who are 15 to 17 years old to engage in consensual sex with individuals less than five years older than them. In these cases, even if one party is slightly older than 18, it is not defined as statutory rape.

If you are currently facing statutory rape charges, it is important to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer. Laws regarding statutory rape can be complicated, and a defense attorney can help guide you through your case. Contact our legal team online at Huffman Mason Raynor Stowers Attorneys or call us at (901) 295-0100 to set up a consultation today.