Age limits restrict all kinds of activities in Louisiana. Teenagers can vote at the age of 18, but they can’t smoke or drink until 21. You can get a driver’s license at 16, but you can’t rent a car without excess insurance until you’re 25. The age of consent in Louisiana is 17. But what exactly does this mean? If you have been accused of violating an age of consent law in Louisiana, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown today. We can help you navigate this legal minefield and protect your future. Call us today at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation with a Baton Rouge sex crimes lawyer.
What is Age of Consent?
Under Louisiana law, children under the age of 17 cannot legally consent to sexual contact. This includes all forms of sexual behavior ranging from penetrative intercourse to “lewd and lascivious” messages. Legally, consensual sexual intercourse cannot occur when one or both parties are under the age of legal consent. The age of consent law protects minors from entering into adult relationships before they have the mental or emotional capacity to do so.
LRS 14:80 and 14:80.1
Louisiana revised statutes 14:80 and 14:80.1 are Louisiana’s consent laws. LRS 14:80 outlines felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Under this statute, this crime is committed when:
- Oral, anal, or vaginal sexual intercourse occurs AND
- The victim is 13 or older but under the age of 17 AND
- The suspect is 17 years or older AND four or more years older than the victim.
LRS 14:80.1 outlines misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile. This occurs when:
- Oral, anal, or vaginal sexual intercourse occurs AND
- The victim is 13 or older but younger than 17 AND
- The suspect is 17 years or older AND the age difference is more than two years but less than four.
What is Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile?
Under Louisiana law, statutory rape is also known as carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Carnal knowledge of a juvenile involves anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 17–the age of consent in Louisiana. Carnal knowledge of a juvenile typically implies some form of consent from the underage victim, but sexual consent cannot be legally given until the age of 17.
Penalties for Statutory Rape in Louisiana
The penalties for statutory rape cases in Louisiana range from minor fines to felony conviction and sex offender registration. The penalty for carnal knowledge of a juvenile depends on the age of the alleged victim and the age difference between the victim and the suspect.
Misdemeanor Statutory Rape
Misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile can be charged if the child is between the ages of 13 and 16 but has a two or three-year age difference. A misdemeanor statutory rape charge can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in prison.
Felony Statutory Rape
If the child is under 17 years old but at least 13 and the age difference is four years or more, you could be charged with felony statutory rape. Felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile can result in a 10-year prison sentence with or without hard labor and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
A felony statutory rape charge can also be the result of a second or subsequent misdemeanor statutory rape offense.
Sex Offender Registration
A felony statutory rape conviction can also include a sex offender registration. When someone joins the sex offender registry, their name, age, address, employer, and any distinguishing marks or tattoos are made public. The details of the crime, however, are not so public. Sex offenders also have to re-register to confirm their information every year. In Louisiana, sex offenders have to notify everyone in their neighborhood that they are a sex offender.
Related Child Sexual Abuse Laws in Louisiana
Carnal knowledge of a juvenile isn’t the only type of underage sexual assault punishable under Louisiana law.
Indecent Behavior With a Juvenile
Indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 13 can result in a prison sentence of between two and 25 years with hard labor. If the minor is between the ages of 13 and 16, the punishment is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to seven years in prison with or without hard labor.
Indecent behavior with a juvenile includes lewd or lascivious acts on or in the presence of someone under the age of 17. This includes online communication, text messages, and other forms of communication.
While carnal knowledge of a juvenile covers intercourse, sexual battery laws cover other types of sexual touching. Sexual battery of a child under the age of 17 can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years with or without hard labor. If the victim is under the age of 13 and the suspect is older than 17, the penalty increases to 25-99 years in prison with hard labor. The penalty for oral sexual battery is the same. Oral sexual battery involves touching the anus or genitals with the offender’s mouth or tongue or forcing the victim to touch the offender’s anus or genitals with their mouth or tongue.
Under Louisiana law, having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone under the age of 13 is prosecuted as first-degree rape. Those convicted of first-degree rape face life in prison or the death penalty.
Molestation of a Juvenile
Molestation of a juvenile involves any sexual contact with a juvenile that’s meant to arouse either party. The age gap between the suspect and victim must be at least two years.
Charges for molestation of a juvenile can result in up to 10 years in prison with or without hard labor and/or a fine of up to $5,000. If the suspect is a parental or supervisory figure, the penalty increases to up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
An adult can be charged with child enticement if they invite or lure a child to have sexual contact via the internet. An adult can be charged with this crime even if no sexual conduct occurs. If the child is between the ages of 13 and 17, the punishment is 5-10 years in prison with hard labor and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the crime involves a child under the age of 13, the punishment is 10-20 years in prison with hard labor and a fine of up to $10,000. This crime is not eligible for probation or parole.
Louisiana Statutory Rape Defenses
Louisiana law states that a lack of knowledge of the child’s age cannot be used as a defense in court. This means that the mistake of age defense will not work in your favor. It often doesn’t matter if the alleged victim lied about their age–you can still be charged with the crime.
A valid legal defense includes the marriage exception. If the alleged victim and the suspect are married, the courts have no say in the sexual relationship. This defense does not protect against non consensual sexual activity with a spouse.
Does Louisiana Have a Romeo and Juliet Exemption?
No. Louisiana does not have a close-in-age exemption for the carnal knowledge of a juvenile. A Romeo and Juliet law protects teenagers who engage in consensual sexual activity while one or both parties are under the age of consent. Louisiana does not have a close-in-age exemption, though most laws state that the age gap has to be more than two years to warrant criminal charges.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown Today
If you or someone you love is facing charges for carnal knowledge of a juvenile in Louisiana, it’s time to contact an attorney you can trust. Criminal convictions leave an ugly stain on your permanent record, especially charges that involve children. An experienced criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Ossie Brown can help you maintain your reputation and fight for your freedom.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown have been proudly serving residents of south Louisiana since 1984. With our breadth of experience and knowledge, you can trust that we have the resources to defend you. Call us today at 225-343-1111 to schedule an appointment with an experienced Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown.