Here in the Buckeye State, the age of consent is 16. That means – in the eyes of the law – anyone younger than 16 simply doesn’t have the maturity to engage in sexual acts, including oral sex.

Even if you were told by your partner that they’re older than 16, police could still charge you with a sex crime. An actual conviction for a sex crime can be absolutely devastating for you, and have serious, long-lasting consequences.

What Ohio Law Says About Sexual Conduct with a Minor

Under Ohio law, it’s illegal for someone 18 or older to have sexual conduct with someone between the ages of 13 and 15 – unless you are married to that person.

If you violate that law, you could be charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

You’re risking charges of statutory rape if the other person is younger than 13 at the time of the incident.

Possible Penalties for Sexual Conduct with a Minor in Ohio

The possible legal consequences vary depending on circumstances.

  • If you’re charged with having sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 13, the statutory rape charge is an automatic felony of the first degree. For a conviction of this charge, you’re facing at least three years in jail (possibly life) and a $20,000 fine.
  • If you’re less than four years older than the other person when the incident occurred, you’ll most likely be charged with first-degree misdemeanor. This usually includes a $1,000 fine and six months behind bars.
  • Suppose, though, you’re four or more years older than the other person. Under that scenario, you could be looking at a fourth degree felony – which carries a $5,000 fine and up to 18 months in jail.
  • If you’re 10 or more years older than the other person, you’re risking a third-degree felony, with fines up to $15,000 and eight years in jail.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of possible punishment. Under each of those scenarios, if convicted you’ll have to register as a sex offender. Ohio law requires you to remain on the list for at least 15 years or for the rest of your life, depending on the charges and circumstances.

The sex offender list is available for the public to see and search. Being made to register your name on it can have disastrous impacts on your personal and professional life. You could be denied housing or loans, and face difficulty in finding and maintaining a job.

If you fail to comply with registering on the sex offender list, authorities could slap on the harshest possible penalties for the original offense.

How You Can Successfully Fight Charges of Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor

Unfortunately, we live in a society in which some people try to inflict as much harm as they can on another for various reasons. Because of the explosive nature that comes with accusations of sex with a minor, some use them as the ultimate form of revenge.

It’s not unusual for estranged spouses or former girlfriends and boyfriends to use phony charges to get back at their partners.

Even if the allegations made against you are false, the stigma they carry has the power to tarnish your reputation badly.

As in most states, Ohio law enforcement agencies tend to get very aggressive when going after people they think may have engaged in sexual conduct with a minor. Because of this aggressiveness, officials often get caught up in the moment and make decisions before all of the facts are known.

People who are innocent of such charges unwisely think their words alone will satisfy any questions law enforcement may have. Many will actually cooperate with investigators. After all, they’ve done nothing wrong, so what harm can come from trying to “clear things up?”

Plenty of harm can come from that.

If you’re arrested for such a charge, you will have the right to “remain silent” – and that’s definitely a right you should exercise.

Law enforcement will try to use any word you utter against you. So, the more you say, the more you’re putting yourself at risk. Just one mistaken word is all it takes to get your name on the sex offender registry list.

Instead of speaking with investigators about the case, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney with a successful record of defending against sex crime allegations. A skilled lawyer will be able to examine the aspects of the charges against you, make sure you’re aware of your rights, and guide you to a successful defense to clear your name.