You’re 18, Right?

As a firm that specializes in sex crimes, we talk with clients almost every day who have, like most of the general public, misconceptions about the law. The area of sex crimes is no difference, and in many cases, this area may have more misconceptions than any other area of law. One area that frequently comes up is charges related to sexual interaction with an individual who is a minor. There are many common misconceptions when it comes to dealing with minors, the biggest of which is how whether or not you know that an individual is under eighteen years old.

How Was I To Know?

The two biggest examples of this type of situation tend to be one of the following two reasons:

– I thought they were/looked over 18.
– They told me they were over 18.

The first reason given, is in not a legal defense. The reasoning is quite simple, it would be what everyone who was charged with sexual assault of a child said, and there is usually no way to definitively prove that someone did or did not believe someone to be a certain age, save for a recorded or written statement. The second reason, having been told that the other individual was over eighteen, is also not a legal defense, for much the same reason. In the same way teenagers typically misrepresent their age in attempts to secure cigarettes or alcohol, and hold the sellers responsible to verify the purchaser’s age, we also hold the individual engaging in sexual intercourse/contact. We often hear stories about an underage girl who was brought to a campus party, or snuck into a bar, and how someone would assume they were eighteen or even older, which is understandable, but it is up to you personally to make sure that your partner is how old they say they are.

What Am I Supposed To Do, Ask For An ID?

It is usually sarcastically when someone says “what was I supposed to do, ask for her ID?” but that might be one of the best ways to protect yourself. Yes, that question could be a bit of a mood killer, but at the end of the day, you are responsible for your actions, and are the person who has to protect yourself. While this could sabotage a few late night encounters, it eliminates the risk of being charged for sexual assault, which has much larger repercussions.