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Age limit for dating in tennessee

However, the Supreme Court recently declared such laws, as applied to consenting adults in private settings, unconstitutional. Thus, it is unclear if any homosexual conduct qualifies as statutory rape, even sodomy. Like many other states, Tennessee makes some exceptions to its age of consent when the actors are within a certain age range, and close to the same age. In general, a person over the age of 13 can legally consent to sex with someone who is less than 4 years older.

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The crime of statutory rape in Tennessee is committed when the offender has sex with a person between the ages of 13 and 18, and the offender is at least 4 years older. It is classified as a Class E felony, and the punishment for this crime is 1 to 6 years in prison. If there are larger age differences between the offender and the minor, the punishments become more severe, as the crime may be classified as a Class D felony. Due to the serious consequences of such a conviction, it is in your best interests to contact a Tennessee lawyer if you have been accused of this crime.

This offense is a Class B felony.

Statutory rape includes sexual penetration, including oral and anal sex, with a child who is at least 13, and a defendant who is at least four years older than the victim; or when the victim is at least 15 and the defendant is more than five but less than ten years older. This offense is a Class E felony.

However, this offense is a Class D felony if the victim is at least 13 and the defendant is ten or more years older.

Tennessee’s Statutory Rape Laws and Potential Penalties

State law requires, in addition to the applicable fines and prison time, that people convicted of certain instances of statutory rape must register as sex offenders. In Tennessee, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sexual acts between a minor who is 13 or older and a defendant who is less than four years older. For instance, a year-old who engages in consensual sex with a year-old cannot be prosecuted for statutory rape.


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Defendants accused of statutory rape often claim that they had no reason to know that their partner was underage. They may argue that the child said that he or she was of age, and that a reasonable person would have believed it. But even if this is true, a defendant cannot rely on a mistake of age —even a reasonable one—to avoid conviction in Tennessee.

Tennessee Age of Consent Lawyers | LegalMatch Law Library

But, as in most states, in Tennessee even a reasonable mistake of age is not a defense to statutory rape. If you are facing a statutory rape charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area.

A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties such as, for example, probation instead of prison time and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. Tennessee has six statutory sexual abuse charges on the books which are used to prosecute age of consent and child abuse related crimes within the state.

One or more of these charges may be used to prosecute violations of the Tennessee Age of Consent, as statutory rape or the Tennessee equivalent of that charge. The severity of the criminal charge felony, misdemeanor, etc depends on the specifics of the acts committed and the relative ages of the perpetrator and victim.

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Tennessee Statutory Rape Laws

Click any charge for more detailed information. Back to list of state ages of consent View international ages of consent. What is Age of Consent?

What is Statutory Rape?