Statutory sex offenses don’t necessarily involve coercion, violence or force. They can involve one person being older or more mature in a way that gives them more power and authority than the younger one. When a relationship is inherently uneven, it is harder for the less powerful party to give authentic informed consent.
Different states have different approaches to protecting children and young adults from predation in romantic and sexual relationships. Louisiana has one of the more complex laws about the age of consent, which can often lead to confusion.
Not only are adults who date teenagers at risk of facing charges, but even teenagers still enrolled in high school could face criminal consequences for their sexual partners.
The age of 17 is a critical cutoff in Louisiana
You do not have to be an adult to consent to sexual activity in Louisiana. You only have to have reached the age of 17. A 17 year-old young adult can make the decision to be intimate with anyone who is also 17 or older.
Under Louisiana law, anyone who is 17 years of age or older who has an intimate encounter with those between the ages of 13 and 16 can face criminal charges. That means that if a 17-year-old junior in high school dates a 14-year-old freshman, the junior is at risk of being arrested if the two have sex.
If you or your teenage child is in a situation that could result in age-based sex crime charges, talking about the situation with a lawyer now can help you make better decisions and take steps to protect against long-term consequences.