Submitted by admin on Thu, 08/14/2008 - 13:00
Can you tell me what Massachusetts law is regarding statutory rape? -- Various Readers
In Massachusetts it is illegal to have sexual intercourse with a child who has not yet reached his or her sixteenth birthday (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 265, Section 23). The law defines intercourse broadly (assume that penetration by either party of any orifice by any body part is covered). Consent of the minor or ignorance of his or her age is not a defense. Moreover, the person accused of statutory rape may be prosecuted even when the victim does not want to prosecute and refuses to cooperate. If convicted, the accused may be imprisoned "for life or any term of years."
If both parties are under sixteen then, technically, both parties have committed a crime. However, when presented with such cases, prosecutors tend to exercise their prosecutorial discretion and decline to prosecute either party. Interestingly, it is also illegal in Massachusetts to "induce any person under 18 years of age of chaste life to have unlawful sexual intercourse" (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272, Section 4). However, this Section is almost never prosecuted, perhaps because of the difficulty of establishing the element of the victim's "chaste" life.
For more information or to post a question, visit our MA Criminal Law Discussion Forum.