Age of Consent in Indiana

Age of Consent in Indiana

What Is Consent?

Consent is a mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity. People must give their consent before participating in any type of sexual activity and may revoke it at any time. This means that a person may agree to sex initially but could change their mind, and their partner must respect the decision. Consent must also be given before transitioning into a different type of sexual act.

However, a person must be of a certain age to legally consent to sex.

The age of consent is 16 in Indiana, meaning no one can legally give their consent to sexual activity until they are 16 years old. Even if a person under 16 explicitly agrees to have sex, their words are essentially ineffective under Indiana law. Doing any type of sexual activity without the consent of all participants or with the consent of someone under 16 is considered a sex crime, which demonstrates why consent is important. You do not want to suffer criminal charges that could ruin your life forever.

Legal Definition of Consent

Unlike many states, there is no statutory definition of consent in Indiana. However, a person commits sexual battery if they do the following acts to satisfy the sexual desires of themselves or another:

  • Touch a person by force or the imminent threat of force
  • Touch a person who is so mentally disabled or deficient that they can’t consent to the touching
  • Touch a person’s genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast when that person is unaware that the touching is occurring

In other words, using force or threats of force, touching a mentally disabled or deficient person, or touching a person’s intimate body parts without their knowledge is considered non-consensual sexual activity in Indiana. As a result, you could get accused of sexual battery, a Level 6 felony.

What Does Consent Look Like?

Consent can be expressed in a variety of ways, with communication being a critical aspect. Clearly expressing consent throughout a sexual act will help both partners feel comfortable and safe. Planned Parenthood breaks down the meaning of consent into five components:

  1. Freely given
  2. Reversible
  3. Informed
  4. Enthusiastic
  5. Specific

With this in mind, you can better understand what consent looks like by reviewing the examples below:

  • Saying “yes” when asked to have sex or try a different sexual act
  • Asking permission before changing the type of sexual activity
  • Offering positive feedback when you feel comfortable with a sexual act
  • Telling your partner they can stop at any time
  • Checking-in to see if your partner is still okay with an activity
  • Evaluating your partner’s body language and other physical cues to ensure they are comfortable (note: Physiological responses such as an erection or lubrication are involuntary and do not always indicate consent)

As you can see, giving consent is not a one-time deal. You must continuously ensure your partner is on the same page as you because they may revoke their consent at any time. Even if you are in a long-term relationship or married, you must not engage in sexual acts or change a type of activity unless you and your partner give consent.

What Does Consent NOT Look Like?

Having non-consensual sex could land you in jail. However, not giving consent isn’t always as simple as saying “no,” “stop,” or “I don’t want to do this.” While these are straightforward examples of non-consent, there are other ways a person can express their dissent. Below are examples of what consent does not look like:

  • Refusing to take “no” for an answer
  • Having sex or engaging in sexual activity with someone under 16 in Indiana
  • Proceeding with activity despite your partner looking upset or uncomfortable
  • Assuming you have consent to engage in a sexual act because your partner consented to it in the past
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is intoxicated, impaired, or otherwise incapacitated
  • Assuming a person wants sex because of their clothing or because they are flirting or kissing

Consequences of Having Sex without Consent

A good rule of thumb is no consent, no sex.

If a person has sex with someone who is legally incapable of giving their consent (under 16 years old), forces them to have sex against their will, or otherwise engages in nonconsensual sexual activity, they could get sex crime charges ranging from rape to child molestation. These accusations could tarnish a person’s personal and professional life, including their reputation. Not to mention, convicted sex offenders must register in the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry, which we describe further below.

Indiana Rape Statute

If you have sex without your partner’s consent, they could accuse you of rape. This is among the most serious crimes a person can be accused of. Rape can be a Level 3 felony if it occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally has sexual intercourse with another person or knowingly or intentionally causes another person to perform or submit to other sexual conduct when:

  • The other person is compelled by force or imminent threat of force
  • The other person is unaware that the sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct is occurring
  • The other person is so mentally disabled or deficient that they cannot consent to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct

However, rape can be a Level 1 felony if:

  • It is committed by using or threatening the use of deadly force
  • It is committed while armed with a deadly weapon
  • It results in serious bodily injury to a person other than a defendant
  • The offense is committed by drugging the victim or knowing the victim was drugged without their knowledge

Indiana Child Molesting Law

A person who knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child under 14 commits child molesting in Indiana, a Level 3 felony. However, the charge can increase to a Level 1 felony if:

  • It is committed by someone who is at least 21
  • It is committed by using or threatening to use deadly force or while armed with a deadly weapon
  • It results in serious bodily injury
  • It is committed by drugging the victim or knowing that the victim was drugged without their knowledge

A legal defense against child molesting charges is the defendant reasonably believed that the child was 16-years-old or older at the time of the conduct. However, this defense does not apply if the defendant:

  • Used or threatened to use deadly force
  • Was armed with a deadly weapon
  • Caused serious bodily injury
  • Committed the crime by drugging the victim or knowing the victim was drugged without their knowledge

Romeo and Juliet Law in Indiana

Although the age of consent is 16 in Indiana, certain juveniles may get away with having sex under the age of 16. Thanks to Indiana’s Romeo and Juliet law, 14 and 15-year-olds can legally consent to sex with their peers under certain conditions.

Prior to this law passing, high school students in dating relationships risked getting sex crime charges and having to register as sex offenders for participating in sexual activities with their peers. For instance, if a high school freshman engaged in sexual activity with a junior, the junior could get accused of statutory rape in Indiana. If the freshman’s parents pressed charges, the junior could go to jail and be labeled as a sex offender.

To combat this devastating effect, the Romeo and Juliet law allows juveniles who are 14 and 15 to give legal consent to sex and provides legal defenses for defendants charged with sexual misconduct with a minor. For clarity, sexual misconduct with a minor is commonly known as statutory rape in Indiana.

Under Indiana’s Romeo and Juliet law, a person may legally have consensual sex with a 14 or 15-year-old if all of the following elements apply:

  • They are no more than 4 years older than the victim
  • They were in a dating relationship or ongoing personal relationship
  • The crime was not committed by a person who is at least 21 years old
  • The crime was not committed by using or threatening to use deadly force
  • The crime was not committed while armed with a deadly weapon
  • The crime did not result in serious bodily injury
  • The crime was not committed by drugging the victim without their knowledge or knowing the victim was drugged without their knowledge
  • The crime was not committed by a person with a position of authority or substantial influence over the victim
  • They have not committed another sex offense
  • They are not promoting prostitution

If a defendant does not meet all of the above requirements, they may get convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor or statutory rape. This crime occurs when a person at least 18-years-old knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child less than 16. If convicted of this Level 5 felony, the penalty will range from 1 to 6 years in prison and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.

Indiana Sex Offender Registry

Sex crime penalties are unique because they require convicted offenders to register in the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry for a certain period of time depending on the nature of the offense and the offender’s criminal history. This database is accessible to the general public and contains information such as a person’s identity, location, offense, and appearance.

If you are convicted of a sex crime, especially one involving sex without consent, you may be required to register in the Indiana sex offender database and consequently suffer a host of challenges in your life. This includes obstacles to employment, housing, financial aid, relationships, and recreational activities, in addition to utter humiliation from friends and family. Even when your profile is removed from the state’s sex offender database, your peers and colleagues will still remember your past.

Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP for Powerhouse Defense Against Your Sex Crime Charges

Few things in life are more important than your freedom and future, and a sex crime allegation alone has the power to derail the life you worked so hard building. We will fight tirelessly to prevent that outcome from happening.

As former deputy prosecutors, our experienced lawyers know how both sides of the courtroom operate and can formulate fierce defense strategies that counteract the prosecution’s anticipated attacks. Our goal is to help get your sex crime charges reduced or dropped altogether so you can move forward with your life.

Schedule your free consultation with us online or by calling (317) 202-1163!

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