Columbus Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Defense Lawyers
Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Ohio refers to engaging in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent. As a felony and subset of statutory rape charges, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a serious offense, and accusations must be handled carefully.
The penalties for child sex crimes are long-lasting and intimidating. They can include imprisonment, fines, a permanent criminal record, and possible sex offender registration. While this is a sensitive situation for all involved, working with an experienced defense attorney is critical if you or a loved one are charged.
At Luftman Heck & Associates, our team of Columbus defense attorneys has successfully defended individuals accused of statutory rape and other offenses. Let us protect your rights and guide you, ensuring you make informed decisions as we seek the best possible outcome.
Call (614) 500-3836 for a free and confidential consultation with LHA.
Ohio Unlawful Sexual Conduct with Minors & Statutory Rape Charges
Ohio Revised Code 2907.04 defines unlawful sexual conduct with a minor as an individual (aged 18 or older) engaging in sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 when the perpetrator is less than four years older than the minor. Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is usually a fourth-degree felony. Statutory rape in Ohio can carry severe consequences.
It is important to note that the age of consent in Ohio is 16, and the age range of 13 to 16 only applies if the perpetrator is less than four years older than the minor. The crime of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor applies when the perpetrator is less than four years older than the minor. The accused may face more serious charges if the age difference is more significant.
Unlawful Sexual Conduct/Statutory Rape: Common Scenarios
Understanding how people are accused of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is crucial for those facing charges. Here are some typical instances that may lead to devastating allegations:
- A 19-year-old engages in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old. The age difference is four years, making it unlawful sexual conduct with a minor under Ohio law.
- A 24-year-old adult engages in sexual activity with a 16-year-old minor. Even though the minor is within the specified age range, the age difference is more than four years, which may result in a statutory rape charge.
- A 20-year-old adult and a 16-year-old minor begin a consensual sexual relationship. The minor’s parents disapprove and report it to the police. In this case, the adult could be charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
Other Age of Consent-Related Charges
Cases that involve sex with a minor are complicated and sensitive. And while unlawful sexual contact with a minor & statutory rape is the most well-known, the details can sometimes result in other sex crime charges.
Other age-of-consent charges in Ohio include:
- Gross Sexual Imposition (Ohio Revised Code Section 2907.05): This occurs when an individual has sexual contact with a minor under 13 or between 13 and 16 when the perpetrator is four or more years older than the minor. The inappropriate touching must be against the minor’s will or the result of coercion.
- Sexual Battery (Ohio Revised Code Section 2907.03): This applies when an individual engages in sexual conduct with a minor who is between the ages of 13 and 16 and is related to the perpetrator, under the perpetrator’s custody or care or is a student of the perpetrator if they hold a position of authority in a school or institution.
- Importuning (Ohio Revised Code Section 2907.07): This involves soliciting a minor under the age of 13 or a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 when the perpetrator is four or more years older for sexual activity through any means of communication.
Unlawful Sexual Conduct with Minors: Penalties & Consequences
The collateral impact of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor conviction in Ohio depends on the circumstances. Charges for illegal sex with a minor may be elevated, leading to more jail time, higher fines, and other adverse effects like mandatory sex offender registration.
- Fourth-Degree Felony Sex with a Minor: When the perpetrator is less than four years older than the minor, the crime is generally a fourth-degree felony. Penalties for a fourth-degree felony include up to 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and tier-one sex offender registration.
- Third-Degree Felony Sex with a Minor: If the perpetrator is 18 or older and more than 10 years older than the minor, the offense may be elevated to a third-degree felony. Penalties for a third-degree felony include up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and tier-one sex offender registration.
- Second-Degree Statutory Rape: When the perpetrator is 18 or older and four or more years older than the minor, it is usually classified as a second-degree felony. Conviction is punishable by up to 8 years in prison, a $15,000 fine, and mandatory tier two sex offender registration.
- First-Degree Statutory Rape: When the sexual activity involves a minor under 13, the offense is a first-degree felony, punishable with a minimum of 10 years in prison up to life, $20,000 in fines, and tier-three sex offender registration.
Defending Against Unlawful Sexual Conduct Charges
Defending against charges related to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Ohio may seem daunting, but it’s not hopeless. An experienced attorney can help build a strong defense by exploring various legal angles and presenting evidence to support your case. This may involve challenging the accusation’s validity, presenting evidence that supports your version of events, or demonstrating that the age difference does not meet the criteria for the charge.
Here are the commonly used defenses in unlawful sexual conduct with minor cases:
- Age of the Minor: One defense is to challenge the actual age of the minor involved, demonstrating that they were not in the protected age range (13-16) at the time of the alleged offense. If it can be proven that the minor was over 16, the charges may be dropped or reduced.
- Age Difference: Another potential defense is to establish that the age difference between the accused and the minor does not meet the criteria for the charge. For example, if the accused is less than four years older than the minor, the charges may not apply or be reduced.
- Consent: While consent is not a defense when the minor is underaged, proving that the sexual conduct was consensual and that the minor lied about their age could be used to mitigate the charges.
- False Accusations: Another potential defense is demonstrating that the allegations are false or fabricated. This may involve presenting evidence such as text messages, emails, or witness testimony to support the defendant’s version of events.
- Insufficient Evidence: In some cases, you may argue that the evidence against you is insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This could result in a dismissal or an acquittal at trial.
Remember that each case is unique, and the best defense depends on the details.
Ohio Unlawful Sexual Conduct & Statutory Rape FAQs
If you are facing charges related to unlawful sexual contact with a minor, we recommend working with a criminal defense lawyer. Here are some frequently asked questions associated with statutory rape and related offenses in Ohio:
What if a Minor Lies About Their Age?
Arguing that you lacked the knowledge or believed the alleged victim was over the age of consent is seldom a defense to unlawful sexual contact or statutory rape. In most cases, the only way to use ‘mistake of age’ as a defense is to provide documentation that shows the minor gave false proof of age.
How is Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Different from Statutory Rape?
In Ohio, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor refers to sexual conduct between an adult and a minor aged 13-16 with less than a four-year age difference. Statutory rape, or “Rape” under Ohio law, involves sexual conduct with a minor when the age difference is more significant or under 13.
Can Parents Decide to Drop Statutory Rape Charges?
Once authorities are aware of an alleged incident of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor or statutory rape, the prosecutor’s office decides to file and pursue charges. The victim’s parents or guardians have no say.
What if the Sexual Activity was Consensual?
Consent is not a defense for sexual conduct with minors under 13. However, it may be relevant in cases involving minors aged 13-16.
Speak to a Sex Crime Defense Lawyer Now
If you’re arrested in Columbus, Ohio, for engaging in sexual activity with a minor, assert your right to a lawyer. Do not answer questions or try to explain things on your own. You need an experienced defense attorney with a background in sex crime cases to clarify the issue and advocate for you.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have successfully represented many individuals charged with statutory rape and sex offenses involving minors. We can find the flaws in the case, present an argument in your favor, and fight for the best possible outcome. For over a decade, LHA has fought for clients accused of crimes ranging from minor misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. Let us fight for you too.
For a free consultation about how we can help you defend against unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Columbus, Ohio, call (614) 500-3836 today.