It’s important for 18-year-olds in Ohio to understand its age of consent laws so that they don’t inadvertently find themselves facing serious sex crimes accusations due to ignorance or misunderstanding about what constitutes an appropriate romantic relationship.

What You Need to Know About Ohio’s Age of Consent Laws

In Ohio, it is illegal for someone over 18 to engage in sexual activity with someone under the age of 16. This is because the age of consent is 16. Therefore, an 18-year-old (or someone older) can legally date and have sexual relations with a person who is 17. Of course, if the act was not consensual, it would be illegal.  

What is Statutory Rape?

In Ohio, statutory rape is referred to as “unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.” This crime occurs when an adult (18 or older) engages in sexual activity with someone under the age of 16. This includes any type of intercourse or contact with a person’s genitals or intimate parts, including oral sex, anal sex, or digital penetration. If found guilty, those convicted can face hefty fines and jail time.

Close-in-Age Exemption 

Ohio has a close-in-age exemption that allows minors aged 13 and older to legally consent to partners under age 18. It is important to note that this exemption only applies when both parties are minors.

Penalties For Unlawful Sexual Conduct With a Minor

The penalties for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor vary depending on the difference in age between the offender and the victim. This only applies to victims over the age of 12.

  • If the offender is less than four years older than the other person, it is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree, which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison. 
  • If the offender is four or more years older than the other person but less than ten years older, it is considered a felony of fourth degree, which carries a minimum sentence of 6-18 months in prison. 
  • Finally, if the offender is ten or more years older than the other person, it is considered a felony of third degree, which carries 1–5-years in prison.

Additionally, offenders will be required to register as sex offenders in all the above circumstances.

Defending Against a Statutory Rape Charge in Ohio

It is illegal to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 in Ohio. If you are charged with statutory rape, there are several defenses available to you.  

Romeo and Juliet Defense

In Ohio, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between two minors who are at least 13 but younger than 18 years old. 

Mental Capacity Defense

Another possible defense against a statutory rape charge is mental capacity, which means that the offender did not comprehend the victim’s age or actions due to reduced mental function. 

False Accusations Defense

Finally, some defendants may choose to defend themselves against statutory rape charges by claiming false accusations were made against them out of malice or spite by an unhappy partner or family member.

Contact an Experienced Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you have been charged with statutory rape in Ohio, you should consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away so they can review your case and help you determine which defense might work best for your situation given your specific circumstances and available evidence. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

For more information, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (513) 333-0014 or visit us at our Cincinnati law office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States

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