statutory rape

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Statutory rape is defined by statute as an act of sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent, which is considered to constitute rape under the law, whether the person is willing or not. In statutory rape, there is usually no overt force or threat. Because minors are legally incapable of consenting to such acts, the law presumes that all sexual activity with a person below a certain age is coercive. Further, sexual relations with prepubescent children are usually considered a more serious crime.

Statutory rape is a generic term, and different jurisdictions use different statutory terms for the crime, such as rape of a child (ROAC), sexual assault (SA), unlawful sex with a minor (USWAM), corruption of a minor (COAM), and carnal knowledge of a minor (CKOAM). Most of the laws on this issue are set at the state level, not the federal level.

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]