It is well-known that being accused of statutory rape is a serious issue, both legally and socially. This is why, before engaging in sexual contact, it is important to be aware of the statutory rape laws in your locale. These laws vary between countries and between states, and New York is no exception. According to Age of Consent, the minimum age where an individual can legally consent to sexual contact with another adult is 17 years old.
This means that if an older individual has sexual contact with an individual 16 years of age or younger, the older individual is subject to prosecution. The specific punishment meted out will depend upon many factors, including the age of the minor participant. Not knowing the age of the minor is not a defense against statutory rape charges in New York State.
It is also important to know that New York does not have a so-called “Romeo and Juliet Clause,” which is a catch-all phrase for laws designed to prevent persons who are close in age from falling afoul of statutory rape laws. For example, if an 18-year-old has sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old, the 18-year-old is still subject to prosecution. Theoretically, if two minors who are under the age of 17 engage in sexual contact with each other, both can be prosecuted under New York statutory rape laws. However, this is extremely unlikely.
The one serious exception to New York statutory rape law minimum age is being married to the minor in question. While it is extremely unusual for persons under the age of 18 to be married, with parental consent this is possible in New York state.