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The laws may also vary by the type of sexual act, the gender of the participants or other considerations, such as involving a position of trust; some jurisdictions may also make allowances for minors engaged in sexual acts with each other, rather than a single age.Charges and penalties resulting from a breach of these laws may range from a misdemeanor, such as corruption of a minor, to what is popularly called statutory rape.In most places it is 16 years old, but some set it at 17 or 18.
The age of consent is the age at which a person is considered to be legally competent to consent to sexual acts.
A number of factors affect the severity of the sentence in a particular case.
One is the age of the victim: the younger, the more serious the crime.
Other factors that can impact a sentence include: Close-in-Age Laws To address potential statutory rape situations where two people are close in age, a number of states have enacted what are sometimes called "Romeo and Juliet laws." These laws carve out a different set of rules where the offender is only slightly older than the minor.
For example, in New Jersey, having sex with an underage person is sexual assault only if the actor is four or more years older.
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Thus, a 22-year-old who has intercourse with a 15-year-old commits a felony, but an 18-year-old who does the same thing does nothing unlawful.