If you have been charged with a statutory rape offense in Alaska, you should ensure that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. Without professional legal representation you risk being sentenced for something you did not do or sentenced more severely than your crime justified.
To understand how a defense attorney can defend someone who has been charged with statutory rape it pays to understand the law in Alaska as it applies to rape.
The age of consent and statutory rape
The age of consent in Alaska is 16. Anyone who is younger than 16 is considered a “minor”. This means that someone who is an adult (aged 18 or more than 18) who has sex with a minor can be charged with “statutory rape”, even if it is claimed that it was consensual, i.e. that both parties agreed to having sex. This is because in Alaska it is assumed that someone who is younger than 16 cannot be expected to give informed consent to sex.
Note that if an adult has sex with a minor it does not have to have any semblance of force attached to it to be still considered a criminal offense. If force is proven to have occurred as well, then the rape charge may be more severe and classified as “forcible rape”.
Convictions for statutory rape depend on the relative ages of the defendant and the victim. The most serious scenario is if the victim is 12 years old or younger and the defendant is at least 16 years of age. This is sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and is an unclassified felony. All felony offenses in Alaska involve prison sentences.
There are various other categories of statutory rape, which are related to the age of the victim. The younger the victim and the older the defendant, the more serious the offense.
Defense against statutory rape
Typical defenses are that the act did not take place and that someone else committed the offense (not you). There are other defenses that might apply.
Consensual sex between two minors. If both people have consensual sex and are 16 or younger then statutory rape cannot be applied if the difference in age between the two minors is less than three years as long as both are at least 13 years old. This is the so called “Romeo and Juliet” exception, which is used in other states as well. It also applies even if one of the minors is younger than 12 as long as the other minor is not more than 3 years older.
Consensual sex between a married minor and an adult spouse
If a minor has sex with an adult boyfriend or girlfriend then it will be considered statutory rape and the adult will be charged. However, if the two people are both married, even though the younger spouse is a minor, then the sex will not be considered statutory rape. This is known as a marital exemption. Note that if the older spouse forced the other to have sex, then this would be considered “forcible rape” and would be considered a criminal offense.
Mistake of age
This is a common defense and is used when the adult claims that the younger person he (or she) had sex with declared that she (or he) was older than 16. The defense is allowed in Alaska if it can be reasonably established that this was a likely conclusion at the time.
Given the fact that punishment for statutory rape involves a criminal conviction and a harsh sentence including probable prison time, fines and probation, it makes sense to get the best representation you can if you have been charged with this offense. Contact a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage at (907) 276-8008.