Close Menu
Mark C. Cogan, P.C.
(503) 549-1077

Free & Confidential
Initial Consultation

Call or Email Mark Cogan Directly!

Struggling with
legal problems?

We are here to help.

In Oregon, underage sex crimes like statutory rape carry heavy penalties

Getting convicted of a sex crime can have serious consequences that last for many long years. For someone who is younger, these repercussions can be particularly harmful as they try to launch a career, get into an institution of higher education or apply for a professional license.

Everyone makes some youthful mistakes, but only a select few wind up accused of a sex crime as a result. Under Oregon’s statutory rape laws, even consensual sexual contact can be harshly punished.

Different criminal statutes apply depending on age of victim

Under Oregon law, there is not actually a criminal offense called “statutory rape.” Rather, the term encompasses a variety of statutes that criminalize various types of sexual contact with a minor on the theory that those younger than 18 lack the legal capacity to consent to sexual encounters.

For example, rape in the third degree includes having sexual intercourse with another person who is under the age of 16, and is a Class C felony. Rape in the second degree includes sex with someone who is under 14 years old, and is a Class B felony. These offenses are punishable by fines, and up to five years and ten years in prison, respectively. It is a defense to these charges and a handful of other statutory rape offenses if at the time of the alleged act, the defendant was less than 3 years older than the victim. The law creating this defense is commonly referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet” law.

Statutory rape charges generally get more serious the younger the victim. Rape in the first degree includes sexual intercourse with a minor younger than 12, and is a class A felony. The age of the defendant is immaterial, and there is no defense under the Romeo and Juliet law to first degree rape. Under sentencing enhancements to Oregon law, conviction for sex with a child under the age of 12 carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

On the other hand, the charge of sexual misconduct includes intercourse with an unmarried person under 18 years of age, and is only a Class C misdemeanor. While fines for sexual misconduct can reach several thousand dollars and there can be serious jail time, there is not the possibility of years in prison for consensual sex with, for example, a 17-year-old victim.

Generally, the less serious statutory rape charges are considered lesser included offenses of the more serious ones, i.e., an adult accused of consensual sex with a 15-year-old could be charged with either rape in the third degree (this charge criminalizes consensual sex with someone under the age of 16) or sexual misconduct (this charge criminalizes sexual contact with anyone under 18). Prosecutors will typically charge defendants with the most serious sex crime available given the evidence they are initially presented with.

Oregon’s statute of limitations prohibits the state from prosecuting certain offenses if a given amount of time has passed. However, the statute of limitations is generally inapplicable to sex crimes involving children.

Facing statutory rape accusations? Talk to an Oregon criminal defense attorney

If you have been accused of statutory rape, or any other type of underage sex offense, you need a strong legal defense. Your attorney may be able to keep you out of jail, avoid mandatory registration as a sex offender or ensure you will qualify for future expungement of an offense that winds up on your criminal record.

Even when they involve consensual acts, convictions for underage sex offenses can have lasting consequences. Do everything you can to protect yourself by getting in touch with an Oregon criminal defense attorney today.

Set up your free initial consultation

Mark C. Cogan, P.C., of Portland, Oregon, represents individuals charged with crimes throughout Oregon, including central Oregon, northern Oregon, Pacific Coast communities and the Willamette River valley, including Clackamas County, Washington County, Multnomah County, Columbia County, Marion County, Tillamook County, Clatsop County, Lincoln County, Lane County, Linn County and Benton County and the cities of Salem, Lake Oswego, Gresham, Oregon City, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tualatin, Milwaukie, West Linn, The Dalles and Clackamas.

© Mark C. Cogan, P.C., 2016 - 2017.