World Population

Age of Consent by State

Age-of-consent laws were historically only applied when a female was younger than her male partner. As of August 1, 2018, the age of consent in each state in the US was either 16 years of age, 17 years of age, or 18 years of age. The lowest state age of consent in the United States is 16. In most US states, the age of consent has been arbitrarily designated by statute. However, this age of consent varies widely from state to state. The laws were designed to prosecute people older than the victims rather than teenagers close in age, therefore prosecutors rarely pursued teenagers in relationships with other teenagers even though the wordings of the laws made some closed-age teenage relationships illegal. The highest state age of consent in the United States is 18. Federal law makes it criminal to engage in a sexual act with another person who is between the age of 12 and 16 if they are at least four years younger than you. Several states have introduced legislation as per sexual act, In the United States, the age of consent is the legal age at which a person is considered mature enough to consent to sex. This is true in some jurisdictions, even if both partners are themselves younger than the age of consent, and both parties could technically be prosecuted.

According to legalmatch, Each state takes a different approach as the age of consent has ranged from 12 to 18 by 2021.

StateAge of ConsentAcceptable Differences Between Ages
Alabama162
Alaska163
Arizona182 (defendant must be in high school and < 19)
Arkansas163 (if victim is < 14)
California18N/A
Colorado174 (if victim is < 15), 10 (if victim is < 17)
Connecticut162
Delaware18N/A
Florida18N/A
Georgia16N/A
Hawaii165
Idaho18N/A
Illinois17N/A
Indiana16N/A
Iowa164
Kansas16N/A
Kentucky16N/A
Louisiana173 (if victim is < 15), 2 (if victim is < 17)
Maine165
Maryland164
Massachusetts16N/A
Michigan16N/A
Minnesota163 (if victim is < 13), 2 (if victim is < 16)
Mississippi162 (if victim is < 14), 3 (if victim is < 16)
Missouri17N/A
Montana16N/A
Nebraska16N/A
Nevada16N/A
New Hampshire16N/A
New Jersey164
New Mexico164
New York17N/A
North Carolina164
North Dakota18N/A
Ohio16N/A
Oklahoma16N/A
Oregon183
Pennsylvania164
Rhode Island16N/A
South Carolina16Illegal if victim is 14 to 16 and defendant is older than victim
South Dakota163
Tennessee184
Texas173
Utah1810
Vermont16N/A
Virginia18N/A
Washington162 (if victim is < 12), 3 (if victim is < 14), 4 (if victim is < 16)
West Virginia164 (if victim is e 11)
Wisconsin18N/A
Wyoming164
District of Columbia164
Source: ASPE

Each U.S. state has its own age of consent, as does the District of Columbia. The ages of consent were raised across the U.S. during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. In 1880, the ages of consent were set at 10 or 12 in most states, with the exception of Delaware where it was 7. A backlash among the public occurred when some teenagers engaging in close-in-age relationships received severe punishments perceived by the public.

Alabama: In Alabama, it is illegal for an adult someone 18 or older to have sex with a minor someone younger than 16, even if the sex is consensual. Alabama minimum age of victim is 12 years.

New York

The age of consent of New York is 17. It is illegal for anyone to have sex with someone under the age of 17.

California The age of consent in California is 18. It is illegal for anyone to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor (someone under the age of 18). Those over the age of 21 engaging in sex with those under 16 are subjected to more harsh penalties.

Texas The age of consent is 17. The minimum age is 14 with an age differential of 3 years; thus, those who are at least 14 years of age can legally have sex with those less than 3 years older.

Florida The age of consent in Florida is 18. It is illegal for anyone over the age of 24 to have sex with anyone under the age of 18, unless they are married.

Illinois The age of consent in Illinois is 17, it is illegal for them to commit acts of a sexual nature on persons who are under the age of 18, with someone who has a position of authority or trust over the victim. There is no close-in-age exception, crossing the age boundary is Criminal Sexual Assault.

Alaska: The age of consent in Alaska is 16, provided the older partner is not in a position of authority.

Arizona: The age of consent in Arizona is 18. The age of consent is 16, with some close-in-age exemptions.

Colorado: The age of consent in Colorado is 17, however, there exists in the legislation close-in-age exceptions, which allow those aged 15 and 16 to engage in acts with those less than ten years older and those less than 15 to engage in acts with those less than four years older.

Connecticut: The general age of consent in Connecticut is 16. This applies for the most relationships. However, the age of consent becomes 18, Where one person is a guardian, or responsible for the general supervision.

Delaware: The age of consent in Delaware is 18, but it is legal for teenagers aged 16 and 17 to engage in sexual intercourse as long as the older partner is younger than 30.

Georgia: The age of consent in Georgia is 16 and there is no close-in-age exception, though the offenses are a misdemeanor rather than a felony in cases where the perpetrator is less than 19 years of age and is no more than 4 years older than the victim.

Hawaii: The age of consent in Hawaii is 16. There is however a close-in-age exemption, which allows those aged 14 and 15 to consent to sex with those less than five years older.

Idaho: The age of consent in Idaho is 18. If the victim is under the age of 16 and female, and the actor is male and age 18 or older, or if the female is age 16 or 17 and the male actor is at least 3 years older, any penetrative act is considered Rape.

Indiana: The age of consent in Indiana is 16. A close-in-age exception allows minors 14-15 years of age to legally consent to sex with a partner who is less than 18 years old.

Iowa: The age of consent in Iowa is 16, with a close-in-age exemption for those aged 14 and 15, who may engage in sexual acts with partners less than 4 years older.

Kansas: The age of consent in Kansas is 16, Persons who participates sexual activity under 16 can be convicted of statutory rape, sodomy, or indecent liberties with a child. Kansas has a so called "Romeo and Juliet" law that makes the penalty for statutory rape less severe when the case involves two teenagers.

Kentucky: The age of consent in Kentucky is 18. Consensual sex with persons at least age 16 but not yet 18 is permitted only if the actor is less than 10 years older than the younger party.

Arkansas: The age of consent in Arkansas is 16, There is however a close-in-age exemption, which allows those aged below 14.

Connecticut: The age of consent in Connecticut is 16. This applies in most relationships. However, the age of consent becomes 18, Where one person is a guardian, or responsible for the general supervision.

Louisiana: The age of consent in Louisiana is 17, acceptable age difference of 3 if the victim is less than 15, 2 years if victim is less than 17.

Maine: The age of consent in Maine is 16. Teenagers aged 14 and 15 may engage in sexual intercourse with partners who are less than 5 years older.

Maryland: The age of consent in Maryland is 16, acceptable age difference is 4.

Massachusetts: The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16, Whoever commits any unnatural and lascivious act with a child under the age of sixteen shall be punished.

Michigan: The age of consent in Michigan is 16, There is no close-in-age exemption. In March 2012 the Michigan Senate passed a bill which was to prohibit sexual relations between students of any age and teachers.

Minnesota: The age of consent in Minnesota is 16, acceptable age difference is 3, if victim is less than 13 and 2 if victim is less than 16.

Mississippi: The age of consent in Mississippi is 16, acceptable age difference is 2, if victim is less than 14 and 3 if victim is less than 16.

Missouri: The age of consent in Missouri is 17. There is a 4-year close-in-age exception for minors aged between 14 to 16, but no exception for those aged 13 or below.

Montana: The age of consent in Montana is 16 per Montana Code Annotated (2019) section 45-5-625(c).

Nebraska: The age of consent in Nebraska is 16.

Nevada: The age of consent in Nevada is 16.

New Hampshire: The age of consent in New Hampshire is 16, but is only a misdemeanor if the age difference is under 4 years, and in that case the offender is not required to register as a sex offender.

New Jersey: The age of consent in New Jersey is 16. There is an exception. If the victim is less than 18 and the partner is a guardian, sibling or any other person closer than a fourth cousin or has any type of authority over the victim, for example, a teacher, the assailant may be charged with a crime.

New Mexico: The age of consent in New Mexico is New Mexico 16, and a close-in-age exception allows minors 14-15 years of age to legally consent to sex with a partner who is less than 18 years old.

North Carolina: The age of consent in North Carolina is 16. However, certain exceptions to this general rule exist.

North Dakota: The age of consent in North Dakota is 18, with a close-in-age exemption for minors aged 15-17 as long as the older partner is less than three years older.

Ohio: The age of consent in Ohio is 16. However, there exists a special close-in-age exception where a minor 13 or older can consent to sex as long as their partner is also at least 13 but less than 18 years old.

Oklahoma: The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16. An employee of a school system who has sexual conduct with a student of that school system aged between 16 and 19 may face criminal charges in Oklahoma.

Oregon: The age of consent in Oregon is 18 with a close-in-age exemption of 3.

Pennsylvania: The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16 years, Teenagers aged 13, 14 and 15 may or may not be able to legally engage in sexual activity with partners who are less than 4 years older. The age of consent was previously 14 but it was increased to 16 in 1995.

Rhode Island: The age of consent in Rhode Island is 16. However, there is a close-in-age exception that allows people aged 16-17 to have sex with a minor aged 14 or 15, but not younger.

South Carolina: The age of consent in South Carolina is 16. Illegal if victim is 14 to 16 and defendant is older than victim.

South Dakota: The age of consent in South Dakota is 16, if the perpetrator is within three years of age of the victim or is under 18 the penalties are reduced.

Tennessee: The age of consent in Tennessee is 18, A close-in-age exemption is 4, Penalties differ depending on the age of the minor, allows minors aged 13-17 to engage in sexual penetration with partners less than 4 years older..

Utah: The age of consent in Utah is 18, Under the Romeo & Juliet exception, it is legal for minors aged 16 and 17 to engage in consensual sexual conduct with partners who are less than 7 years older, and up to 10 years older if the older reasonably didn't know the minor's age.

Vermont: The age of consent in Vermont is 16, However it rises to 18 if the person is related to the minor or in a position of authority over her/him.

Virginia: The age of consent in Virginia is 18, with a close-in-age exception that allows teenagers aged 15 to 17 to engage in sexual acts but only with a partner younger than 18.

Washington: The age of consent in Washington is 16, with a close-in-age exception of 2 if victim is less than 12, 3 if victim is less than 14 and 4 if victim is less than 16.

West Virginia: The age of consent in West Virginia is 16, with the close-in-age exception of 4.

Wisconsin: The age of consent in Wisconsin is 18 and there is no close-in-age exception, However, a marital exception which allows a person to have sex with a minor 16 or older if they are married to the minor.

Wyoming: The age of consent in Wyoming is 17, with the close-in-age exception of 4.

District of Columbia: The age of consent in Wyoming is 16, with the close-in-age exception of 4.

The minimum age of sexual consent is the age from which someone is deemed capable of consenting to sexual activity. Early sexual activity also increases the risk of early pregnancy. The objective of the minimum age of sexual consent is to protect adolescents from sexual abuse and from the consequences of early sexual activity on their rights and development. Young adolescents may be lured into sexual activity by older adults in exchange for goods and favors, making those from disadvantaged settings and poor background particularly at risk.

States where age of consent is 15

This is the age below which an individual cannot consent to sexual intercourse under any circumstances. Most of the states start at the age of 16, However, Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon and Virginia states has minimum age of victim is 15. Federal law makes it criminal to engage in a sexual act with another person who is between the age of 12 and 16 if they are at least four years younger than you.

States where age of consent is 16

States where the age of consent is 16 are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

State where age of consent is 17

States where the age of consent is 17 are Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New York and Texas.

States where age of consent is 18

States where the age of consent is 18 are Arizona, California, Florida, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee , Utah, Virginia, Delaware, Idaho and Wisconsin.

Dating with minors: Dating with with 15, 16, 17 and 18 years old not illegal, to date a minor if a person under 18 years old is ok, but it is illegal to have sexual relations with a minor. So the safest approach is to wait for any sexual contact until the state age of consent.

According to Unicef, International standards do not indicate what the minimum age for sexual consent should be. The CRC Committee has considered 13 years to be very low. The age should however avoid the over-criminalization of adolescents behaviors and prevent access to services. Accordingly, it should respect the evolving capacities of the child and not be set too high. It should also consider as a criterion the age difference between the partners involved as one indication of the balance of power between them and address cases in which two underage adolescents are involved. Underage sexual activity presents a number of risks in relation to sexual and reproductive health, including unwanted or early pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Early pregnancy and motherhood is in turn a primary determinant of school drop out for adolescent girls.

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