Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

225 W. Squantum St., Suite 100, Quincy, MA 02171

Free Consultations Available

617.300.0212

Statutory Rape and Sex Education for High School Students

Do you have children in middle school and high school? Do you wonder what they are being taught in school about sex, the age of consent, and what qualifies as consent? Long gone are the days when sex education began and ended with a discussion about the birds and the bees. Today’s sex education needs to incorporate the law or else your child may find themselves facing criminal charges. At Sweeney & Associates we have represented countless juveniles facing charges in juvenile court and adult court, or facing expulsion from school over sex-related activities. Discussing the following issues with your children may prevent them from facing the same charges. If your child is facing charges related to a sexual assault, contact us at Sweeney & Associates today for a free consultation. We can be reached at (617) 328-6900 or mail@rsweeneylaw.com. We can help you!

What makes a sex talk involving legal issues difficult is that there are different ages of consent for different sexual acts. For example, any sex act involving sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse requires both parties to be 16 years old or older. A person under 16 by law cannot consent to sex. Teens also need to be made aware that intercourse is not just defined as vaginal-penile penetration. Rather, Massachusetts law defines intercourse as penetration, no matter how slight, and it includes penile, oral, and digital (fingers) penetration. As an example: if a 15-year-old girl performs oral sex on a 17-year-old boy, the boy can and will be charged with Rape and Abuse of a Child. It does not matter whether the 15-year-old girl consented or whether the girl performed or received the sexual act. It only matters what the ages of the parties are and whether penetration occurred. The punishment for Rape and Abuse of a Child is up to life in prison and the juvenile could also be required to register as a sex offender.

Even more scary for parents is that even though two children may be under 16 years old, one or both will still be charged with Rape and Abuse of a Child if they engage in sexual intercourse. It will almost certainly be the boy that is charged and not the girl. For example, a 15-year-old boy who has sexual intercourse with his 14-year-old girlfriend can still be charged with Rape and Abuse of a Child and it has happened in many cases in Massachusetts. There is no common sense understanding in the law that allows two teens who are both under 16 to avoid criminal charges. The law simply does not recognize this as an exception. Even children who have their parents’ permission can be charged with a crime. At Sweeney & Associates, we have had cases where the 15-year-old girl’s mom knew she was engaging in sexual intercourse with her 17-year-old boyfriend and did not care. When the school found out, and informed the police, the 17-year-old boy was charged. A parent cannot give consent to their underage child to have sex.

If the sexual act does not involve penetration, your child could still be charged with Indecent Assault and Battery depending on the act involved. Any person 14 years old or older can consent to this kind of touching, unlike sexual intercourse where the person must be 16. A person under the age of 14 by law cannot consent to the touching. Types of touching considered indecent include touching a person’s genitals with their hand, touching a person’s breasts or buttocks, touching their inner thighs, and even French kissing. The body part touched does not need to be the genitals or private area but rather must only be morally offensive. The punishment for Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14 is up to 10 years in prison or 2 ½ years in the house of correction.

It is also important to note that mistake as to the person’s age is not a defense. In another case we have seen at Sweeney & Associates, a 17-year-old boy meets the girl of his dreams at a concert. He looks at her driver’s license and it says she is 16. After the two engage in consensual sexual intercourse, the boy finds out the girl is really 15. The boy can still be charged with Rape and Abuse of a Child. It does not matter that the boy thought the girl was 16 or that she deceived him through use of a Fake ID. The only thing that matters is that the girl was under 16 years old. Or maybe the boy met the girl at a 21+ club. It does not matter that the girl was able to gain entrance to the club. For purposes of the law, it only matters that the girl was under 16 and she had sex with someone over 16.

Consent. A lot about consent has been written and talked about in the news lately. Massachusetts law does not require that a person physically resist their attacker. It is enough in Massachusetts that the person said “no.” A person is also deemed incapable of consenting if they are too intoxicated, asleep, or otherwise unable to give consent. Often times movies and TV shows will show a woman saying “no” and then giving in. This is a bad example for children to see because they often believe this happens in real life. Teens need to be taught that when a person says no, any inclination towards a sex act must stop. There is no trying to persuade or reassure the person to engage in a sexual act. This will only lead to criminal charges. Children also need to be taught that just because someone may have consented to sex previously does not mean they have given consent for all future sex acts. Each sex act is treated independently by the law. Two sixteen year olds may be in a sexual relationship and have had sex on multiple occasions but if on the next occasion, the girl says no, and the boy still has sex with her then this is Rape. It does not matter how many times they had sex before.

While a lot of this post has described relationships between girls and boys, charges can and will be brought in cases involving same-sex relationships and sexual encounters. As discussed earlier, penetration for purposes of Rape and Abuse of a Child can be accomplished in a variety of methods including oral penetration, digital penetration, and object (vibrator) penetration.

Parents need to make sure their children know that most juveniles facing criminal charges had their investigation started at school. The school is a mandatory reporter and must report any allegations of sexual activity regarding a minor. The school will try to get your son or daughter to tell them what happened and children tend to make incriminating statements to teachers or others at school that are used against them. Make sure your child knows to never answer any questions about anything sex-related acts they engaged in without a lawyer present. As a parent you have the ability to tell the police and school that you do not consent to your child making any statements. Assert that right. Never allow your child to make any statements to the police, school resource officer, or school personnel without an attorney present. The statement can and will be used against your child in court. No statement your child makes will help them out of their predicament. Instead you need to hire an experienced attorney and you can find one at Sweeney & Associates.

Most schools have school resource officers and guidance counselors who will hear about sex acts occurring either because one of the parties has been discussing it with friends (which then spreads like wildfire through the student population) or has recorded part of the act on video or in pictures and then shared them. This is particularly dangerous. Any photos or images of a person under 18 years old engaged in a sex act is considered child pornography. It does not matter that the person who took the image or video is also under 18 years old. The person who took the video or photo can be charged with Production of Child Pornography. When they show the video or photo to other people, they can be charged with Dissemination of Child Pornography. The person who took the photos or showed the video to their friends will face a minimum of ten years in prison. These are very serious charges that can lead to prison and a requirement to register as a sex offender.

Many sex offenses in Massachusetts require a person convicted of the charge to register as a sex offender and the person must also wear a GPS monitoring bracelet for the duration of any probationary sentence. This is true if you are convicted of Rape and Abuse of a Child or Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14. A juvenile judge has the authority to relieve someone under 18 from having to register as a sex offender or having to wear a GPS bracelet but that only happens upon motion by the juvenile’s attorney.

Criminal charges and a future of registering as a sex offender can be avoided by having an in-depth sex education talk with your child about the legal consequences of sexual intercourse, indecent touching, and sending, receiving, or recording pictures or videos of children under 18 years old either posing in the nude or engaged in a sex act.

Contact us at Sweeney & Associates today if your child has been charged with a sex offense or if they are facing possible charges. We can help you! We can be reached at (617) 328-6900 or email us at mail@rsweeneylaw.com. For more information go to our website.

Categories