If you have been charged with statutory rape in Oklahoma, you likely realize the seriousness of the charges you are facing. Law enforcement, the courts, and members of the community often take an aggressive stance toward allegations like these, even if they are untrue or if the facts are not clear. You may quickly find yourself fighting battles on many fronts, fighting for your job, your standing in the community, and your freedom.
Hundreds of men and women across the state of Oklahoma are accused of statutory rape every year. While the media often sensationalizes these stories and makes every case seem like a forcible act, in many cases, a person may be charged with statutory rape from actions that stemmed from what seemed like a consensual romantic relationship.
If you are accused of statutory rape in Oklahoma city or anywhere in the state, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law. Do not admit anything to law enforcement or anyone, and instead seek legal counsel as soon as possible. While a conviction can carry stiff penalties, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you mount an aggressive defense on your behalf to protect your rights, livelihood, and your freedom.
Like all states in the U.S., it is illegal in Oklahoma for an adult (an individual over the age of 18) to have sex with a minor (an individual under the age of 18) even if the act was consensual. While the laws regarding the age of consent vary from state-to-state, the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16 years of age. The state also recognizes an age differential of two years, which means that a person cannot be charged with rape if the act was consensual and the individuals are no more than two years apart in age (and no parties were under the age of 14).
Statutory rape in Oklahoma is a strict liability crime. This means that a prosecutor does not have to prove that an assault occurred, nor will the court accept an excuse based on ignorance, like “I was not aware of their age.” Instead, all the prosecution needs for a conviction is the age of the victim and proof that the sexual act occurred.
According to Oklahoma law (21 Ok. Stat. § 45-1114 & 45-1123), statutory rape will be prosecuted as a sex crime and can fall into three distinct categories, with penalties based on the ages of the defendant and the victim. The charges and penalties are as follows:
First-Degree Statutory Rape – includes consensual sex and may involve penetration with a body part or another object. First-degree rape charges may involve a victim who is under the age of 14 and a defendant who is over the age of 18. Penalties for first-degree statutory rape are at least five years in prison and can range all the way up to lifetime incarceration.
Second-Degree Statutory Rape – includes consensual sex between a minor who is younger than 14 years of age and a defendant who is also a minor under 18 years of age. A person may also be charged with second-degree rape if the victim is 14 or 15 and the defendant is 18 or older. Penalties for second-degree rape can range from at least 1 to 15 years in prison.
Lewd or Indecent Acts with a Child under 16 – can involve sexual touching without penetration between a minor under the age of 16 and a defendant who is more than three years older. A conviction could result in incarceration for a period of time, depending on the specific circumstances.
For these charges, a conviction could result in not only incarceration for a specific period of time, but also hefty fines and the mandatory registration as a sex offender. For individuals who are either under the age of 18 or are just over the age of 18, a conviction like this can have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives.
If you are accused of statutory rape, you may be fearful for your freedom and your future. You may ask “is it possible to fight back -and win- against these allegations?” Fortunately, the answer is yes. Under the U.S. justice system, an accusation is not a conviction, even if society makes you feel as though the case has been closed from the moment word of an arrest gets out. You have the right to defend yourself against any accusations, and it is possible to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.
When it comes to statutory rape allegations, some defenses include:
“Romeo and Juliet” exception – Like the “star-crossed lovers” in Shakespeare’s play, the state of Oklahoma recognizes that teenagers should not have to face severe criminal penalties for consensual sexual acts, provided that they are at least 14 years of age and under 18 years of age.
Marital exemption – There is a marital exemption to Oklahoma’s statutory rape laws for married minors and their adult spouses. With parental consent, minors can marry at 16 in Oklahoma, and certain exceptions can also be made for minors under the age of 16 in the case of the birth of a child (and parental consent).
Ignorance or mistaken age – As discussed above, defendants will often claim that they were unaware of the victim’s age at the time of the act, but Oklahoma’s strict liability laws typically render this defense useless.
The Oklahoma statutory rape defense attorneys of the Wyatt Law Office are ready to stand up for you and help you fight the charges you are facing. We know that allegations like these can make you feel isolated and afraid for your future. You don’t have to let a charge like this ruin your life, and you do have the right to fight back.
When you call us, you can rest assured that we will carefully examine every aspect of your case and will work tirelessly to build a convincing defense on your behalf. We’re here to stand by you, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help as soon as possible. Schedule a 100% confidential case evaluation with an understanding member of our team by filling out a contact form, chatting with us live, or by calling us directly at (405) 234-5500 today.