What is Pennsylvania's age of consent?

Among the topics making news headlines in Pennsylvania and around the nation frequently these days is that concerning alleged inappropriate relationships or conduct. If at least one of the parties involved in a situation is under the age of 18, the potential for accusations of statutory rape to be alleged enters the equation. Just what can be considered statutory rape in Pennsylvania?

As explained by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the legal age at which a person in the state may voluntarily participate in sexual activity is generally 16. However, there may be some times when a teenager who is 16 or 17 is involved in a case that ultimately leads to criminal charges if the other party was a teacher, coach, mentor or other person who was in a position of power relative to the minor.

For teenagers younger than 16, they may actually legally engage in sexual conduct depending upon the age of the other person. This is due to what is sometimes called the Romeo and Juliet Law designed to recognize mutual relationships young people close in age to each other have. In these cases, if the two parties are within four years of age of each other, their activity may be legal. This means that a 17-year-old and a 13-year-old may legally be able to have sex but an 18-year-old and a 13-year-old may not.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to help give residents in Pennsylvania an overview of the somewhat complex laws surrounding statutory rape and the legal age of consent to sexual activity in the state.

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