Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor

The offense more commonly known as “statutory rape,” in which legal adults engage in sexual conduct with teenagers, usually results in alleged offenders in Ohio being charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. While cases involving smaller differences in age between alleged offenders and alleged victims are misdemeanor offenses, many cases result in felony charges.

Convictions not only result in possible prison sentences and fines, but may also require individuals to register as sex offenders. Alleged offenders can also experience significant hardships when applying for certain jobs, housing, or professional licensing if they have these kinds of offenses on their criminal records.

Cincinnati Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor (Statutory Rape) Defense Attorney

Statutory rape is an old legal term that loosely translates to “technical rape.” It traditionally means an adult had sex with someone who was too young to give legal consent and, as such, the sex was nonconsensual by default, which constitutes rape. Similar to how even a highly educated minor can’t vote, minors under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to have sex in Cincinnati. However, statutory rape and rape are different crimes in Ohio, provided the sex was only “technically” nonconsensual, which means the victim was not a child (under 13) and actually consented.

Every state criminalizes “statutory rape” in some form. Certain states incorporate statutory rape into their rape statute or categorize it as a separate crime. Ohio does both. In Cincinnati, statutory rape is actually called “unlawful sexual conduct with a minor” and is criminalized by Ohio Code § 2907.04Ohio uses the term “unlawful sexual conduct” instead of “rape” to distinguish between nonconsensual sex and consensual but unlawful sex.  Even so, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is serious felony-level sex offense in Cincinnati unless you’re subject to Ohio’s narrow “Romeo & Juliet” provision.

Attorney for Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor in Cincinnati, OH 

Statutory rape investigations necessarily involve a minor victim. Sex crimes proceedings involving minors are governed by unique evidentiary laws and require compassionate attorneys on both sides of the courtroom. Defendants facing statutory rape charges in Hamilton County need an understanding and professional sex crimes defense attorney with experience handling delicate juvenile sex crimes cases. Schedule your free, confidential unlawful sexual conduct with a minor defense consultation with the Joslyn Law Firm’s experienced Cincinnati felony sex crimes defense attorneys online or by calling 614-444-1900.

Cincinnati’s Comprehensive Information Center for Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Charges

Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a felony-level sex offense in Cincinnati. Felony sex crimes convictions are life-changing, and a conviction under Ohio Code § 2907.04 is no exception. Cincinnati’s compressive statutory rape (unlawful sexual conduct with a minor) information center provides an overview of Ohio Code § 2907.04 proceedings. For questions concerning a specific sex crimes investigation or indictment in Hamilton County, contact the experienced Cincinnati sex crimes defense lawyers at the Joslyn Law Firm directly.

  1. Cincinnati Defense Attorney Defining Statutory Rape
  2. The Difference Between Statutory Rape, Rape, and Sexual Battery Charges in Cincinnati
  3. Evidence Needed to Prove Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor (Statutory Rape) in Cincinnati
  4. Understanding and Applying Ohio’s “Romeo & Juliet” Laws to Cincinnati Statutory Rape Charges
  5. Special Investigations and Court Procedures During Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Prosecutions
  6. Possible Direct Penalties of an Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Conviction in Cincinnati
  7. Possible Collateral and Indirect Penalties of a Cincinnati Statutory Rape Conviction
  8. Common Defenses a Cincinnati Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Defense Lawyer Can Present
  9. FAQs Answered by Cincinnati Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Defense Attorneys
  10. Cincinnati Statutory Rape and Sexual Assault Resources

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1. Cincinnati Defense Attorney Defining Statutory Rape

The term “statutory rape” typically refers to the crime of “unlawful sexual conduct with a minor” criminalized by Ohio Code § 2907.04. However, § 2907.04 does not cover every type of sexual conduct traditionally referred to as “statutory rape.” It only criminalizes when someone over the age of 18 (an adult) has sex with someone he/she is not married to and should reasonably know is 13, 14, or 15. In Ohio, having sex with a minor under the age of 13 is considered rape, not statutory rape, and is a strict liability crime. The offender does not need to know the child was under 13, the offender’s age does not matter, and consent has no bearing on child rape charges in Ohio. Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is not a lesser-included offense of child rape in Cincinnati. Section 2907.04 only criminalizes “sexual conduct” that occurs between someone over the age of 18 and a minor age 13, 14, or 15. Qualifying sexual conduct falling outside Ohio Code § 2907.04 is not punishable as unlawful sexual conduct with a minor but may be punishable as another Ohio sex offense under Chapter 2907 of the Ohio Criminal Code


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2.  The Difference Between Statutory Rape, Rape, and Sexual Battery Charges in Cincinnati

Many sex crimes codified in Chapter 2907 of the Ohio Criminal Code overlap. The same criminal act may qualify as rape, sexual battery, statutory rape, and gross sexual imposition in Cincinnati. Understanding the differences between Ohio’s major sex crimes is essential to defend against statutory rape charges without unwittingly admitting to another Ohio sex offense.

Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is one of Ohio’s three major sex crimes: (1) rape, (2) sexual battery, and (3) unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. If you’ve been charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Cincinnati, you’re an adult accused of having sex with someone between the ages of 13 and 16. Actual consent and knowledge of the minor’s age are the two major differences between statutory rape charges under § 2907.04 and rape/sexual battery charges under § 2907.02 and 2907.03.

Anytime an adult offender has sex with someone between the ages of 13 and 16, regardless of consent, prosecutors may charge the offender with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. However, § 2907.04 was drafted to cover situations where the victim actually desired to have sex with the offender. If the evidence indicates a victim was forced, pressured, or coerced into engaging in sexual conduct with the offender, this is normally charged as rape or sexual battery 

The presence of actual (although not legal) consent is why offenders may only be convicted of statutory rape when they knew or “should have known” the victim was underage. Prosecutors will traditionally charge defendants with the highest-level sex offense that fits the crime, but sexual offenders cannot be convicted of both the primary offense and a necessary lesser-included offense. For example, those charged with rape of a 15-year-old under Ohio Code § 2907.02 cannot be convicted of both rape and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. However, prosecutors may allow defendants to plea to lesser-included statutory rape charges in lieu of pursuing a rape or sexual battery prosecution.


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3.  Evidence Needed to Prove Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor (Statutory Rape) in Cincinnati

Hamilton County prosecutors must prove every element of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor beyond a reasonable doubt. In relevant part, § 2907.04 states that “[n]o person who is eighteen years of age or older shall engage in sexual conduct with another, who is not the spouse of the offender, when the offender knows the other person is thirteen years of age or older but less than sixteen years of age, or the offender is reckless in that regard.” This means prosecutors must prove each of the following criminal elements of statutory rape to sustain § 2907.04 charges in Cincinnati:

  • The defendant was over the age of 18 when the allegedly criminal conduct occurred
  • The parties (defendant and victim) actually engaged in “sexual conduct” as defined by Ohio law, such as they had vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • The parties were not spouses at the time of the offense (Ohio law prohibits marriage to someone under the age of 17 but must respect legal marriages entered into in another state or territory)
  • The victim was over the age of 13 but under the age of 16 - meaning 13, 14, or 15 years old when the parties had sex
  • Before having sex, the adult offender actually knew or reasonably should have known the victim was underage 

You are innocent of Cincinnati sex crimes charges until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Prosecutors bear the burden of producing admissible evidence of each of the above elements of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor during trial. An unwitting failure to produce admissible evidence of even one element, such as a copy of your driver’s license to prove age, will force the court to dismiss Cincinnati statutory rape charges.

Cincinnati sex crimes investigators generally look for/require the following evidence to prove unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Hamilton County: 

  • Legal documents proving age, such as birth certificates, licenses, passports, admissions, or even expert medical testimony
  • Evidence of “sexual conduct,” which typically means the parties were (1) caught in the act, (2) admitted to having sex, (3) the defendant’s sperm was found on/in the victim, or (4) the victim is pregnant
  • Proof that the parties were not married, including testimony or documentary evidence
  • Evidence that the offender knew or should have known the victim’s age

The last element is the hardest to prove because it requires evidence of a “subjective mindset.” The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects criminal defendants from being forced to give self-incriminating testimony and prohibits the court from using a defendant’s refusal to testify against him. Hamilton County prosecutors must use circumstantial evidence to prove that the defendant knew or “should have known” the victim was under 16 and over 13. This evidence often includes: 

  • Testimony from the victim, friends, family members, or teachers that the defendant knew the victim was underage
  • The victim’s youthful appearance
  • Social media evidence, such as recent photos showing the victim at her 14th birthday party
  • Text messages and chat history between the parties
  • The defendant’s unwitting admission of knowledge

Defendants cannot turn a blind eye to the victim’s age. If he/she appears under 16 to a reasonable person, this is traditionally enough to shift the evidentiary burden to the defendant. A jury must then consider evidence that the defendant did not (and should not) have known the victim was under 16. This critical defensive evidence often includes:

  • Direct testimony from the defendant, friends, or family members
  • How and where the parties met, i.e., at an over 18 club
  • Whether the victim had a job, driver’s license, child, or a fake I.D.
  • The victim’s appearance/apparel
  • The victim’s social media profile and social groups, like photographs of him on a college campus
  • Activities indicating the victim as older than he/she appeared, such as the defendant witnessed her applying to college, smoking, drinking, or driving

A jury will review the circumstantial evidence surrounding the offense to determine whether the defendant actually knew or was “reckless” as to the victim’s age.


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4.  Understanding and Applying Ohio’s “Romeo & Juliet” Provision to Cincinnati Statutory Rape Charges

A “Romeo & Juliet” provision is a legal exception to statutory rape charges (or penalties) present in most states (Shakespeare’s Juliet was 13 while Romeo was probably between 16 and 21). A Romeo & Juliet provision can protect a defendant from a statutory rape conviction if he was under the age of 18 or the parties had a minimal age gap, like they were 15 and 18.  Every state has different variations of this provision.

Ohio has both written and unwritten “Romeo and Juliet” provisions. Ohio’s unwritten provision is that consensual sexual conduct between two minors both over 13 and under 18 is generally not criminal. A minor defendant cannot be prosecuted for statutory rape in Cincinnati under Ohio Code § 2907.04, although he/she may be guilty of another qualifying sex crime. Ohio’s written Romeo & Juliet provision is contained in subsection (B)(2) of Ohio Code § 2907.04.

This subsection mitigates the penalties, and possibly the offense level, of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor conviction, but it is not a defense to statutory rape itself. If the offender is less than four years older than the victim and a first-time offender, statutory rape is a misdemeanor instead of a felony. There is a substantial difference between the direct and collateral consequences of a misdemeanor and felony sex offense convictions in Cincinnati. An experienced Cincinnati statutory rape defense attorney can determine if you qualify for this age exception/mitigation. 

Statutory rape penalties in Cincinnati are mitigated by Ohio’s written Romeo & Juliet provision as follows:

  • Not Statutory Rape – The parties were both between the ages of 13 and 18
  • Misdemeanor of the First Degree – The offender was over 18 but was “less than four years older” than the victim at the time of the offense, such as the victim was 15 and offender was 18
  • Felony of the Fourth Degree – The offender was over 18 but less than ten years older than the victim, such as the victim was 15 and offender was 21
  • Felony of the Third Degree – The offender was over 18 and “ten or more years older” than the victim

If the victim was under 13, this is rape punishable as a first-degree felony regardless of the defendant’s age. The rule of lenity dictates that ambiguities in a criminal statute must be read to favor the defendant. As such, age gaps are traditionally measured relative to the parties’ actual birthdays. For example, a victim born on December 31, 2004, and a defendant born on January 1, 2001, have an age difference of 3 years, 11 months, and 30 days, which is legally less than four years. Hiring an experienced Cincinnati statutory rape defense lawyer to calculate the parties’ exact age gap may mean the difference between misdemeanor and felony charges. 


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5.  Special Investigations and Court Procedures During Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Prosecutions  

Some of the most difficult cases to investigate and prosecute involve sexual conduct with minors. This is especially true in statutory rape cases where minors must submit to extremely personal physical and testimonial forensic examinations. Statutory rape investigations are further complicated because the sexual conduct was usually consensual, but parents may pressure young victims to submit to these difficult examinations as a means of prosecuting a boyfriend/girlfriend. Minors under the age of 16 often have no choice but to comply with their guardians’ wishes. Ohio has certain specialized evidentiary procedures in place to protect minor victims of sex crimes, but they are limited. They include:

  • Utilizing specially trained sexual assault investigators and psychologists to interview the victim
  • Reviewing all evidence related to the parties sexual history and reputation outside the presence of a jury
  • Questioning the minor only via a closed-circuit camera if requested
  • Appointing the minor a guardian ad litem to represent her interests during statutory rape proceedings
  • Limiting the type of sexual reputation evidence admissible at trial 

Despite these protections, Cincinnati statutory rape investigations often cause serious emotional harm to both parties. Experienced unlawful sexual conduct with a minor defense lawyers work tirelessly with Hamilton County prosecutors, parents, the court, and non-profits to have statutory rape charges dropped in favor of alternative arrangements. This is often in the best interest of both parties. Those accused of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Cincinnati should consult with an experienced Ohio statutory rape defense lawyer familiar with the special procedures utilized in Ohio sexual assault cases.


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6.  Possible Direct Penalties of a Statutory Rape (Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor) Conviction in Cincinnati

The age difference between the parties (defendant and victim) dictates the offense-level for an unlawful sexual conduct with a minor conviction under Ohio Code § 2907.04. If the conviction is for a first-time sex offense and the offender is “less than four years older” than the victim, statutory rape is a misdemeanor in the first degree. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by not more than six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000. This is the Romeo & Juliet provision in Ohio. First-time statutory rape offenders convicted of a misdemeanor may avoid jail time with the help of a qualified Cincinnati sex crimes defense lawyer.

Unless you qualify for the Romeo & Juliet mitigation, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is punishable as follows:

  • Felony of the fourth degree if the offender is less than ten years older than the victim. Fourth-degree felonies are punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5,000.
  • Felony of the third degree if the offender is ten or more years older than the victim. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.
  • Felony in the second degree regardless of age if the offender has previously been convicted of rape under Ohio Code § 2907.02, sexual battery under Ohio Code § 2907.03, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor (statutory rape) under Ohio Code § 2907.04, or Ohio Code § 2907.12 (now repealed). Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 8 years imprisonment and a fine up to $15,000.

These are the direct penalties associated with a § 2907.04 conviction in Cincinnati, but Hamilton County judges may (and often must) order the following during a statutory rape sentencing:

  • Payment of mandatory restitution to the victim for expenses incurred due to the illegal conduct, like medical bills and/or child support
  • Payment of all trial and investigation fees (typically waived if the offender pleads guilty)
  • Post-release community control (probation)
  • Community service
  • Family counseling or rehabilitation
  • Designation as a sexual offender and mandatory registration on the Ohio Sexual Offender Registry as a Tier I or II offender

 The only way to avoid the life-altering consequences of a Cincinnati statutory rape conviction is to avoid a conviction altogether with the help of an experienced Cincinnati sex crimes defense lawyer.


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7.  Possible Collateral and Indirect Penalties of a Cincinnati Statutory Rape Conviction

The indirect consequences of an unlawful sexual conduct with a minor conviction in Cincinnati are often worse than the direct penalties imposed. Cincinnati sex crimes defendants may plead guilty to § 2907.04 charges in exchange for leniency during sentencing, including the waiver of costs and no jail time, without understanding the lifetime consequences of an Ohio sex crimes conviction. The worst of these unanticipated consequences stem from designation as a sex offender and mandatory registration on the Ohio Sex Offender Registry.

Those convicted of felony-level statutory rape are considered Tier II sex offenders while those convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape are Tier I offenders. Tier II offenders remain on the sex offender registry for 25 years, and they must check-in with local law enforcement every six months. Tier I offenders remain on the registry for 10-15 years and must check in with law enforcement annually. The following information appears on the Ohio sex offender registry. Some, but not all, of this information is available to the public. You must update this information as it changes:

  • Legal name, nickname, and/or aliases
  • Photo
  • Home address
  • Work address
  • Conviction type and/or criminal designation
  • Vehicle registration information
  • Screen names
  • Phone numbers
  • Email address
  • Any internet handles, websites, or alternative web designations

Failure to register and update this information as necessary may result in new criminal charges or re-incarceration. In addition to public appearance on the registry, numerous Ohio and Cincinnati laws regulate where registered sex offenders can live, work, and frequent. This includes an inability to live within 1000 feet of a school and certain neighborhood notifications of your presence. Additional legal consequences of the designation as an Ohio sexual offender include: 

  • Severe residency restrictions, like the inability to live within a certain range of a school zone or in certain apartment buildings/condos
  • Ineligibility for certain public programs, housing, and benefits
  • Inability use certain Cincinnati public facilities such as parks and pools
  • Loss of child custody/ability to foster/adopt children
  • Prohibition from certain university and college campuses and inability to get student aid
  • Ineligibility to obtain or loss of certain professional licenses such as a teaching, law, or nursing license
  • Inability to work as a police officer or other public servant
  • Loss of most corporate and professional level jobs

 Those convicted of felony-level statutory rape in Cincinnati are also subject to the following potential consequences of designation as a felon:

  • Ineligibility for public jobs and loss of most private jobs
  • Loss of all firearms rights for violent felons (typically not a consequence of a single statutory rape conviction)
  • Loss of certain public benefits
  • Temporary loss of the right to vote
  • Inability to obtain certain recreational or professional licenses
  • Difficulty getting into college or obtaining financial aid
  • Inability to travel outside the state or country
  • Possible deportation for non-citizens
  • Difficulty obtaining a mortgage, loan, or financing

An experienced Cincinnati sex crimes defense attorney should review both the direct and indirect penalties of a statutory rape conviction with the defendant and his/her family. Defendants who understand the full breadth of these consequences may proceed to trial rather than accept a plea deal. The only way to avoid the majority of these life-altering consequences of a Cincinnati statutory rape conviction is to avoid a conviction. 

 


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8.  Common Defenses a Cincinnati Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Defense Lawyer Can Present

Defeating unlawful sexual conduct with a minor charges in Cincinnati is possible with the help of an experienced Hamilton County sex crimes defense team. Not every potential defense is applicable to each prosecution, and your statutory rape defense strategy depends heavily on the facts of the case. This includes the circumstances surrounding the offense and the evidence (or lack thereof) gathered by Cincinnati sex crimes investigators. The success of certain defenses may also hinge on the judge, prosecutor, or investigator assigned to your case. Top-rated Cincinnati sex crimes defense lawyers often employ the following defenses to Ohio statutory rape charges:

  • Lack of Knowledge of Age: A strong defense to 2907.04 charges is if the defendant did not know the victim was under 16. The defendant must not have had a “reason to know” the victim was underage. The jury must look at the totality of the evidence presented, including what the defendant knew about the victim like she had a job, what the victim told the defendant, and what the defendant should have surmised from the facts, such as she looks young. Willful blindness and purposefully not asking too many questions about age is not a defense to statutory rape in Cincinnati, but a good faith belief that the victim was over 16 is. This is a complete defense to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor charges in Ohio.
  • Constitutional Violations: Because statutory rape is punishable as a felony, the defendant must be indicted by a grand jury under the Fifth Amendment. A defendant is also entitled to a lawyer during every “critical stage” of a statutory rape prosecution, and Cincinnati sex crimes investigators cannot obtain certain evidence without a valid warrant. Further, defendants are entitled to cross-examine and be confronted with the witnesses against them. There is no exception to this right, even if a victim was a minor, but the court may permit cross-examination via closed-circuit television. Major constitutional violations often result in the exclusion of critical evidence and dismissal of Cincinnati statutory rape charges.
  • Exclusion of Inadmissible Hearsay Evidence: Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor often involves illegal but consensual sex. As such, some victims are hesitant to testify about the sexual encounter, and sex crimes investigators may rely on parental testimony. Parents or medical professionals (mandatory reporters) who ascertain an underage victim has had sex with an adult due to pregnancy, STD, Facebook messages, or other reasons often report statutory rape to police. As such, a lot of evidence gathered in unlawful sexual conduct with a minor cases may be inadmissible hearsay evidence. This evidence is admissible during grand jury proceeding and to get a warrant, but isn’t admissible at trial. Witnesses generally cannot testify about what someone else said based on Objecting to inadmissible hearsay evidence during Cincinnati statutory rape prosecutions may result in an inability to support the charges.
  • No Sexual Conduct: Ohio Code § 2907.04 only criminalizes qualifying “sexual activity.” This means vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Sexual contact like kissing or groping is not statutory rape. Cincinnati prosecutors must show that qualifying sexual conduct, not just “contact,” actually occurred to sustain unlawful sexual conduct with a minor charges.
  • Minority (Under 18): Defendants under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offense may not be charged with statutory rape under Ohio Code § 2907.04. The age difference between the parties doesn’t matter if both are under 18 and over 13. Section 2907.04 simply does not apply to underage defendants; however, this does not mean an underage defendant can’t be charged with a related offense such as rape or sexual battery.
  • Marriage: Marriage is a complete defense to statutory rape, but it’s seldom applicable since Ohio changed its marriage laws. Ohio’s new legislation raised the legal age of marriage to 18. This change does not invalidate marriages that took place before the legislation took effect and would not invalidate an otherwise legal out-of-state marriage under the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution. However, the out-of-state marriage must not be against “public policy,” such as if the victim is under 15, related to the defendant, or a “child bride.” Marriage is not a defense to Cincinnati statutory rape charges, however, if there is a separation agreement in place or during an action for annulment, divorce, dissolution, or legal separation.
  • Lesser Included Offense: Statutory rape may be a lesser-included offense of another Ohio sex crime. The law of lesser-included offenses is complicated, but the general rule is that if it’s impossible to prove the elements of a more serious sex crime like sexual battery without automatically proving all the elements of statutory rape, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is the lesser-included offense. You may not be convicted of a lesser-included offense on the same facts.

If the evidence doesn’t support a complete defense to Cincinnati statutory rape charges, it may mitigate an offender’s sentence or convince Hamilton County prosecutors to offer a beneficial plea deal. Evidence indicating that the sexual encounter was completely consensual, the victim was not taken advantage of, and she was of sound mind and body is often sufficient to negotiate a mutually beneficial plea agreement. Only a compassionate and professional Cincinnati unlawful sexual conduct with a minor defense lawyer should determine how any applicable defenses are presented.

 


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9.  FAQs Answered by Cincinnati Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor Defense Attorneys

The following are simple answers to the most common questions the Joslyn Law Firm's experienced Cincinnati sex crimes defense lawyers are asked about statutory rape (unlawful sexual conduct with a minor) charges under § 2907.04. Questions concerning a specific case should be directed to our top-rated statutory rape defense lawyers online or by calling 614-444-1900 for a free, confidential sex crimes defense consultation.

  1. What is unlawful sexual conduct with a minor?

It is statutory rape. Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is the official title of Ohio’s statutory rape law as codified in Ohio Code § 2907.04. Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is typically a felony-level sex offense that criminalizes having sex with someone 13, 14, or 15 when the offender was over 18 and had reason to know the victim’s age. Having sex with an individual under the age of 13, regardless of the offender’s age, is rape. If the parties have less than a four-year age difference, statutory rape is a misdemeanor. If they have more than four-year age difference or the offender has previously been convicted of a serious sex crime, statutory rape is a felony.

  1. What does “sexual conduct” with a minor mean?

It means you had sex with someone age 13, 14, or 15. Sexual conduct is defined by the Ohio Code and includes any type of vaginal, anal, or oral penetration regardless of gender. For purposes of Ohio Code § 2907.04 prosecutions, a minor is defined as someone under the age of 16 but above the age of 13. Anyone under the age of 13 is considered a child, not a minor. Sexual conduct with a child is rape.

  1. What is corruption of a minor in Ohio? 

It’s unlawful sexual conduct with a minor (statutory rape) as criminalized by Ohio Code § 2907.04. Corruption of a minor is the old name for this crime. All three terms - corruption of a minor, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and statutory rape – refer to Ohio Code § 2907.04.

  1. What is the age of consent in Ohio?

Sixteen (16). There is no longer a marriage exception to the age of consent in Ohio. No one can legally consent to engage in sexual conduct, as defined above, if they are under the age of 16. There is no exception to this rule.

  1. Is kissing a minor illegal in Ohio? 

Kissing a minor is not statutory rape in Ohio, but it may still be illegal in limited circumstances. This depends on the age difference between the parties, whether the parties consented to the kiss, and the circumstances surrounding the kiss. As a general rule, no one over the age of 18 should kiss someone under the age of 16 for the purpose of sexual gratification, and no one (whether a minor or adult) should kiss someone under the age of 13 with a nefarious purpose. Children cannot legally consent to such contact, and it may be battery or sexual imposition (molestation) in Cincinnati. Otherwise, it is not illegal to kiss a minor with his/her consent. 

  1. Does Ohio have a Romeo & Juliet law? 

Yes. Ohio has both a written and unwritten Romeo & Juliet provision. The unwritten provision stems from the fact that Ohio’s unlawful sexual conduct with a minor statute does not apply to juvenile offenders (those under 18). Ohio also has a written “Romeo & Juliet” provision contained within subsection (B)(2) of Ohio Code § 2907.04. This reduces the level of a statutory rape offense from a fourth-degree felony to a first-degree misdemeanor if there is less than a four-year age difference between the parties. It also reduces the offender from a Tier II to a Tier I sexual offender. 

  1. What are some common defenses to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor charges?

Aside from any available constitutional or procedural defenses, the most common defenses to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor charges include:

  • Lack of Knowledge of Age – the offender did not (and had no reason to) know the victim was under the age of 16
  • Marriage – the parties were in a legally recognized marriage at the time of the offense
  • Minority – the defendant was under the age of 18
  • Mental Incapacity – the offender was not able to comprehend the victim’s age or his/her actions due to reduced mental functioning

The specific defenses applicable to Ohio Code § 2907.04 charges depend on the facts of each individual case and the evidence available to Cincinnati prosecutors.

  1. What should I do if I’m arrested for statutory rape in Cincinnati?

Do not speak to the police. Immediately do the following:

  • Invoke your Fifth Amendment right to silence
  • Invoke your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to an attorney
  • Stay off of social media
  • Do not speak to cellmates or answer any questions before speaking with a Cincinnati sex crimes defense lawyer
  • Call an experienced Ohio statutory rape criminal defense attorney at the Joslyn Law Firm at 614-444-1900 or - at the very least - demand to speak with a public defender

Respectfully but vigilantly assert your constitutional rights to silence and a lawyer as often Cincinnati sex crimes investigators approach you. They may be counting on you to provide a critical piece of evidence otherwise missing from the case. Your silence may mean the difference between conviction and acquittal of statutory rape in Cincinnati.


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10. Cincinnati Statutory Rape and Sexual Assault Resources 

Cincinnati statutory rape prosecutions often involve more than criminal issues. Fear of statutory rape charges may prevent Cincinnati residents from seeking needed medical, legal, or emotional help. The compassionate Cincinnati statutory rape defense attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm understand these fears and are sworn to confidentiality during legal defense consultations. The following sexual assault and health resources are also available in Cincinnati:

A dedicated Hamilton County sex crimes defense attorney at the Joslyn Law Firm can provide a safe party to speak with about your statutory rape concerns. Our legal defense team acts as your advocate both inside and outside the courtroom. Whether you have questions about statutory rape in Ohio or have been charged with unlawful sexual conduct with minor in Cincinnati, contact the Joslyn Law Firm today online or by calling 614-444-1900 for your free, confidential sex crimes defense consultation.


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