Q: What is statutory rape?
A: Statutory rape is an Oklahoma sex crime that is classified as second-degree rape. Statutory rape occurs when a person over the age of eighteen has sexual intercourse with a person under the age of sixteen. That means a high school senior who is in a sexual relationship with a high school sophomore can be charged with second-degree rape. That also means the victim can be male and the defendant can be female. Under Oklahoma law, second-degree rape carries up to 15 years in prison and requires a convicted defendant to register as a sex offender for ten years. Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, meaning you are guilty of the crime if you commit it and there are no defenses permitted or recognized by Oklahoma criminal law. It does not matter if consent is given. It does not matter if there was no force used. Oklahoma law states that anyone eighteen or older who has consensual, non-forcible sexual intercourse with anyone under sixteen commits the felony offense of second degree rape.
Not only is it possible for high school students in a dating relationship to be ensnared in Oklahoma sex crime laws, in my own Tulsa criminal law practice, I have personally witnessed the devastating effects the Oklahoma statutory rape law can have on the lives of unsuspecting teenagers. I once received a call from a young man who was being held in the Tulsa county jail on a charge of second degree rape (statutory rape). He wanted to ask me some questions about his criminal case. I agreed to go see him and offered a free consultation. Before his arrest by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office, the only evidence against him was the allegation made by the alleged victim. There was no physical evidence, no rape kit from a hospital, and no DNA evidence. The “victim” reported the “crime” a week after the incident was alleged to have occurred. It turns out the “victim” was fifteen years old and the defendant was her eighteen year old boyfriend; both were in high school. The girl’s parents called the police because they discovered the two were having sex. The “victim’s” statement to the police was that she gave her consent to intercourse and her boyfriend never forced her. Since the boy was eighteen and the girl was under sixteen, by Oklahoma statute (hence the term statutory rape), the boy was alleged to have committed the Oklahoma sex crime of second-degree rape. It did not matter if the girl had given her consent for sex and it did not matter if the boy had not used force against the girl. Their three-year age difference meant a second-degree rape charge, even though they were dating and even though they were only in high school.
Again, the only evidence against the boy was the girl’s statement, forced by her parents, until the boy went to talk to the police. The police wanted the boy to come in for an interview. They wanted to clear up a few things and they said this would be the only chance for the boy to tell “his side” of the story. He was not under arrest, and he would be free to leave at any time. The detectives just wanted to “talk.” The boy and his parents were CERTAIN they could clear up this misunderstanding and they were concerned that the boy would look guilty if he went in to the police interview with a Tulsa sex crimes lawyer. As a side note, there is nothing friendly about a talk or a chat with the police. It is not a polite conversation. Don’t be fooled, it is an interrogation. NEVER talk to the police, especially during an interrogation, without an attorney. The police began questioning the boy (who went to the interrogation without a sex crimes lawyer), and after just a few minutes the boy had not only unwittingly confessed to second degree rape with his statements, the police tricked him into confessing to oral sodomy (oral sex) with a minor under sixteen, which carries up to 10 years in prison. At the conclusion of the interview the police arrested the boy for second degree rape and oral sodomy. Now, the police not only had the victim’s accusation of second-degree rape, they had the boy’s own words as the strongest evidence against him. Who needed DNA evidence? At eighteen years old, this young man faces up to fifteen years in prison for statutory rape, ten years for oral sex with a minor, and ten years of registering as a sex offender, all because he talked to the police without a Tulsa criminal lawyer. A conviction for an Oklahoma sex crime can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. Contact one of our Oklahoma sex crime lawyers now for a free consultation to see what can be done about your case.