It seems a little unfair that a young man who has a relationship with a girl just a little younger than the legal age of consent is branded a high-risk sex offender in the same classification as a violent sexual predator or child rapist. However, with the state of Oklahoma’s offense-based classification system, this is exactly what happens to hundreds of Oklahoma men and women each year.
Rape is legally defined as nonconsensual sexual intercourse. In Oklahoma, the offense is divided into two classifications: first degree rape and second degree rape.
First degree rape is typically occurs when sex is forced despite a victim’s protests or coerced when a victim is rendered incapable of denying consent. Second degree rape, on the other hand, often occurs when the victim actually consents to the act, but his or her consent is legally invalid because of age, custodial status, or other statutory designation.
Because second degree rape meets the legal definition of rape as defined by statute, but not the common definition of rape which denotes violence and force, it is frequently described as “statutory rape.”
If you are accused of statutory rape, you may feel that the consequences will not be that severe. After all, your partner was a willing participant in your relationship. However, you are strongly urged not to talk to police or anyone else about your relationship if you are questioned about it. Statutory rape is a per se offense. This means that it is a crime without mitigating circumstances. If a person has sex with someone statutorily unable to provide legal consent to the act, then he or she is guilty of statutory rape. Saying, “But she said she was 16,” will not help you any if she is not, in fact, 16 or older. Even if the “victim” is aged 16 or older, there are certain conditions under which he or she is unable to legally consent to sex.
If you are questioned about a sexual relationship, do not answer any questions or offer any explanations. Instead, calmly tell police that you will have your attorney contact them, and then call a lawyer immediately. Even if you think you have nothing to hide, having experienced defense counsel on your side can prevent you from making serious mistakes that will leave you behind bars, required to register as a sex offender for life.
Rape is defined in the Oklahoma criminal code as nonconsensual sexual intercourse that occurs under one or more of eight specific circumstances. In 21 O.S. § 1114, the state names seven of those circumstances as acts of first degree rape. Second degree rape is defined as “all other cases” of nonconsensual sexual penetration. These “other cases” typically involve apparently consensual consent between parties when one of those parties does not have the legal authority to provide consent.
Extracting the acts of first degree rape from the definition of rape in 21 O.S. §1111, statutory rape includes vaginal or anal penetration under the following conditions:
Most people think of statutory rape as sex with a minor younger than the legal age of consent, which is 16 years old in Oklahoma. Looking at the included offenses, however, one quickly realizes that a person can be arrested for rape if he or she has sex with a person old enough to consent if that person is statutorily prohibited from consenting as a student, a ward of the state, or the inmate of a jail or correctional facility. As an example, an Oklahoma Department of Corrections mail clerk was charged with forcible sodomy after she performed oral sex on an inmate who was working maintenance in the mail room. She was not his direct supervisor, and he was a willing adult, but by statute, he did not have the legal capacity to consent to sexual contact. Therefore, she was charged with a Level 3 felony sex crime.
The Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act assigns each person convicted of a sex crime a risk level. While some states take into account the details of the person’s offense and his or her true likelihood of reoffending, Oklahoma bases the risk assessment strictly on the statutory offense. Level 1 sex offenders must register annually for 15 years. Level 2 sex offenders must register every six months for 25 years. Level 3 offenders must register every 90 days for life.
Possessing child pornography is a Level 1 offense. Procuring a child for prostitution is a Level 2 offense. Statutory rape, however, is a Level 3 offense, classified with such crimes as first degree rape, child sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse. Under such a classification system, a 19-year-old high school senior who had a sexual relationship with his or her 15-year-old girlfriend or boyfriend would be considered a sex offender on par with a middle-aged adult who rapes a child.
Finding legal representation is imperative for anyone suspected of second degree rape. If you or someone you love is under investigation, accused of statutory rape, do not talk to anyone except your lawyer about your case.
At Coventon Criminal Defense, we have helped countless people just like you who have found themselves charged as a felony sex offender following a seemingly consensual relationship. Do not let this accusation ruin your life. Call (405) 417-3842 to speak confidentially with a sex crime defense attorney about your case.