If you have teenagers in your family, you undoubtedly know your good parenting can only go so far. You must eventually give your kids freedom to make some mistakes that are part of the growing-up process. Hopefully, those mistakes do not violate any law.
It is not uncommon for teens to engage in sexual activity with other teens, of course. In fact, according to reporting from U.S. News and World Report, almost 40% of teens have sex before they reach the age of 18. Still, sexual contact with a minor is against the law in Missouri.
Missouri’s age of consent
In Missouri, one must be at least 17 to consent to sexual intercourse. Therefore, any sexual activity with a person who is under 17 probably constitutes statutory rape. While the law focuses on adults who have sex with minors, prosecutors may go after minors who are younger than 17.
Romeo and Juliet laws
Many states have Romeo and Juliet laws that shield minors who have sex with minors from criminal prosecution. These laws keep teens who engage in sexual activity with each other from having criminal records. Unfortunately, Missouri does not have a Romeo and Juliet law.
If your son or daughter has intercourse with another teen, he or she may be vulnerable to prosecution. Whether your teen faces felony charges, though, likely depends on the ages of everyone involved. Generally, the younger the victim, the more serious the charges and harsher the penalties.
Even though things may seem bleak, there are probably ways for your teen to defend himself or herself against criminal charges. Ultimately, exploring these options as earlier as possible may help protect your teen’s future.