Age of Consent in Missouri

The Age of Consent in Missouri is a factor in many sexually-related cases. This page was created to give you a detailed understanding of how the age of consent works in Missouri and what you may need to know for your case.

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Age of Consent in Missouri

The phrase “age of consent” typically refers to the age at which a person is legally regarded as mature enough to make decisions about their own sexual activity. In the United States, the age of consent is decided at the state level, so the thresholds differ from state to state.

In most states, the age of consent is around 18 years old, give or take a year. The age of consent in Missouri is similar to that of other states.

Read on to learn what the Missouri age of consent is, what exceptions there are, and what the consequences may be for breaking the Missouri age of consent laws.

What Is the Age of Consent in Missouri ?

The Age of Consent in Missouri is 17 years old. This is the age at which an individual is legally considered old enough to consent to sexual activity.

In the state of Missouri, people aged 16 or younger are not able to consent to sexual activity, and an adult participating in such activity may be prosecuted for statutory rape. In Missouri, statutory rape is committed when an individual has consensual sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17.

There are 10 statutory sexual abuse cases on the books in Missouri that can be used to prosecute age of consent crimes within the state. One or more of these charges can be used to prosecute Missouri Age of Consent violations.

If you are facing a statutory rape charge or other age of consent violation, contact experienced criminal defense attorneys like the ones at Carver & Associates.

Missouri Age of Consent Consequences

The extremity of the criminal charge (misdemeanor, felony, etc.) for breaking Missouri age of consent laws can depend upon the specifics of these acts committed and the relative ages of both the victim and perpetrator. Potential consequences for the crime can include time in prison, probation, and registering as a sex offender.

Typically, more violent offenses and drastic gaps in ages lead to more serious penalties, however, any violation of the age of consent law can be quite serious. Occasionally, courts are lenient in cases where both parties are minors or they are close in age.

Age of Consent Missouri: Range of Penalties

Missouri age of consent consequences

The sentences for violating age of consent laws in Missouri can be extremely severe. The state allows life imprisonment sentences in the event the victim is younger than the age of twelve, severe physical harm was threatened or imposed, or if there were several perpetrators involved.

On the other hand, the least severe judgment possible for statutory sodomy or first-degree statutory rape is 10 years in prison.

By comparison, the least severe judgment possible for second-degree statutory rape or statutory sodomy is one year in county jail and the maximum judgment is seven years in prison.

Men and women in Missouri who are convicted of any sex crime involving a minor need to register as sex offenders. It is difficult, but not impossible for a criminal law firm to get you removed from the sexual offender registry. Registered sex offenders have to provide authorities with their names, addresses, and photos, and keep them updated when they move. The authorities then make this information available to the public as a matter of public safety.

Legal Age of Consent in Missouri

Generally, the age of consent in Missouri is 17 years old. The age of consent is the age at which someone can consent to sex with another individual who is of that age or older. This age of consent applies to both homosexual and heterosexual behavior.

Legal Age in Missouri

The phrase “Legal age in Missouri” may refer to the age of consent, as this page discusses, or it might refer to the age at which someone takes on other rights and responsibilities of being an adult, such as voting or being allowed to purchase tobacco products or alcohol. In Missouri, the age of consent is 17, the age to vote is 18, the age to buy alcohol is 21, and the age to purchase tobacco products is 18.

What Is the Legal Age of Consent in Missouri ?

Legal age of consent in Missouri

The age of consent is 17 years old, but Missouri Laws go further in separating the two different types of scenarios where the age of consent applies; the under 21-year-old tier and the 21-or-older tier.

If an individual in the State of Missouri is under the age of 21, they may have sexual intercourse with someone who is 14 years of age or older. After an individual becomes 21 years old or older in the State of Missouri, they cannot have sexual intercourse with an individual who is under the age of 17.

Irrespective of if it is legal or not, it is never a good idea to even test the waters with a statutory rape charge, as these are serious charges with serious penalties. Consult a skilled criminal defense attorney if you are facing age of consent charges.

Age of Majority in Missouri

In addition to age of consent laws, states also set age limits to privileges and specific duties, although people who are 18 and older are considered adults in the eyes of the law. For example, in most states, minors may petition for emancipation or consent to medical treatments.

Age of majority in MissouriThe State of Missouri does not have any specific age limits under the age of majority (18), but it will provide some exceptions for minors. For example, a minor can consent to medical treatment if the treatment is for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, or chemical abuse or if they are married. Additionally, a married minor (in case the spouse is 18 or older) may be included in the joint possession of real estate.

While Missouri allows for the emancipation of minors in certain circumstances, the age of consent laws still apply to these emancipated minors in most cases, and an ability to consent to certain medical treatments does not constitute an ability to consent to sexual intercourse.

The Romeo and Juliet Law Missouri: Explained

In Missouri, there’s an exception to the age of consent if the two people are over the age of 14 and under the age of 21. This exception is often referred to as a “Romeo and Juliet Law.”

Provided that the contact is consensual, and the two people are between 14 and 21, then the behavior isn’t criminal. If one individual is still younger than 17, and the other turns 21, the behavior becomes criminal, even if it is part of an ongoing relationship in which the behavior had been legal.

Missouri Romeo and Juliet LawRomeo and Juliet law Missouri

There is also an exemption for consensual contact that is sexual in nature between someone who’s between the ages of 14 and 17 and someone who’s older by no more than four years. By way of example, a 21-year-old who engages in consensual sexual acts with a 17-year-old could not be charged with a crime, nor could a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old, and so on.

However, it is always criminal to engage in sexual conduct with someone under 14 years old, no matter the age of the suspect, and a conviction can result in large fines or up to a life sentence in prison, if not both.

For answers to questions about possible statutory charges, schedule a meeting with a Missouri sex crimes lawyer.

Missouri Consent Laws

Consent is defined as positive cooperation in an act or attitude consistent with this exercise of free will. The person must act voluntarily and fully understand the nature of the act. Missouri age of consent laws are put in place because minors under the age of 17 cannot fully comprehend the nature of sexual acts and therefore cannot consent to said acts.

In Missouri, the unlawful act of second-degree statutory rape occurs when a person engages in sexual activity with a minor. A person age 21 or older that engages in sodomy (anal or oral intercourse or sexual penetration) with a minor below the age of 17 commits the unlawful act of second-degree statutory sodomy. Under the legislation of Missouri, someone who engages with a child under the age of 17 commits the unlawful act of child molestation.

Missouri consent lawsIt is also a violation of the law under Missouri’s laws to ask a minor who is under the age of 15 to engage in sexual behavior or to lie about one’s age online to attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a child. For instance, a 21-year-old who texts a minor with an invitation to engage in sexual activity could be convicted of child enticement, even if nothing occurs between the defendant and the minor.

Missouri Legal Age of Consent Defense

Available to individuals who are charged with statutory rape are the usual defenses available to all other criminal defendants. These include “someone else committed this crime,” or even “the alleged crime did not happen.”

Under the laws of Missouri, there are also some potential defenses specific to statutory rape. A mistake of age could be a possible defense. The mistake is considered an affirmative defense, which means the defense has to interject that there was an error of age. And above all, the mistake of age needs to be reasonable as determined by a judge.

An experienced attorney can review your individual circumstances and advise you on the best defense tactics to pursue. If you or your loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Missouri, contact a trusted Springfield criminal defense lawyer.

For answers to questions about possible statutory charges, schedule a meeting with a Missouri sex crimes lawyer.

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