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What Is the Age of Consent in Indiana?

The “age of consent” is a legal term that refers to the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally competent to consent to sexual activities. This age varies from state-to-state and is established by statute. Under Indiana Code 35-42-4-9, the age of consent in Indiana is 16 years old. This means that no one under the age of 16 can legally consent to sexual activity, even if they explicitly and verbally consent to the sexual activity sex. Simply put, their words have no value under the age of sexual consent laws in Indiana.

It’s important for all adults to understand that engaging in sexual activity with a person who is under the age of 16 could result in criminal charges of sexual misconduct with a minor in Indiana. This is a very serious crime, and one that law enforcement actively pursues. It also is an offense that carries harsh criminal penalties and could result in the offender having to register as a sex offender in Indiana.

Given this, anyone who has had allegations concerning the age of consent in Indiana made against them should contact an experienced Indiana sex crimes attorney as soon as possible. Without one, you risk of incurring some of the most serious criminal penalties possible under state law. To take action and invest in the best possible outcome in the case against you, schedule a free consultation with one of Indiana’s leading sex crime lawyers by calling 317-857-0160 or using our online contact form.

The criminal defense team at Keffer Hirschauer LLP is led by two former deputy prosecutors, who have an intimate understanding of how the Indiana criminal justice system works. They have personally prosecuted cases of this nature in the past and now stand ready to help build your defense. When you secure representation form our firm, you can rest assured that your attorney will aggressively seek the best outcome in the State’s case against you – whether that is a dismissal or reduction of charges, or a not guilty verdict. 

Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana? Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today.

Sexual consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It must be an informed, affirmative, and conscious decision made by each participant; and should be freely given without coercion, force, or intimidation. Consent is also an ongoing process. This means that it can be withdrawn or reversed at any time during the sexual encounter.

When it comes to providing, obtaining, and maintaining consent, communication is key. This will best ensure that all parties are comfortable with the activity and willing to continue it. With this in mind, you can better understand what consent looks like by reviewing the examples below:

  • Your partner says “yes” when asked to have sex or try a different sexual act
  • Asking your partner permission before changing the type of sexual activity
  • Offering your partner positive feedback when you feel comfortable with a sexual act
  • Telling your partner it’s okay to stop at any time
  • Checking in to see if your partner is still okay with an activity

Furthermore, you should also evaluate your partner’s body language and other physical cues to ensure his or her comfort level. And keep in mind that 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 continually ensure your partner is on the same page as you because he or she may revoke consent at any time period even if you are in a long-term relationship or married, you must not engage in sexual acts or change the type of activity unless you and your partner both consent. And remember, when it comes to the age of consent in Indiana if the victim is under the age of consent in Indiana (16-years-old), it does not matter whether or not consent was explicitly given; it could be a violation of the age of consent law in Indiana.

Non-Consensual Sexual Activity in Indiana

It’s important to understand that the lack of consent doesn’t require a person to say, “no,” “stop,” or “I don’t want to do this.” While these are straightforward examples of verbal non-consent, there are other ways a person can express their dissent to sexual activity. Below are several examples of where there is a lack of consent:

  • Refusing to take “no” for an answer
  • Having sex or engaging in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent in Indiana
  • Proceeding with sexual 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 to engage in sexual activity because of the clothing the person is wearing or because the person is flirting, kissing, or engaging in other similar activity

There may also be a lack of consent when a person uses intimidation or threat to coerce another person into engaging in sexual activity, even if the person eventually says, “yes.” This is because consent cannot be given out of fear, coercion, or duress. Therefore, when engaging in sexual activity, both parties should be extremely clear about what the other person wants and is willing to do; which is often best achieved through obtaining explicit, freely given consent.

Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in Indiana

In the absence of a clear statutory definition for “sexual consent” in Indiana, non-consensual sexual activity can be legally defined by examining the laws of various Indiana sex crimes. Crimes that may include an element of non-consensual sexual activity in Indiana include sexual misconduct with a minor, child molestation, child solicitation, revenge porn, and various forms of sexual assault in Indiana, like rape and sexual battery.

For the purposes of this article, however, we’ll focus on examining the criminal offense of sexual misconduct with a minor, as it directly pertains to the topic of the age of consent in Indiana. As clearly stated in Indiana Code 35-42-4-9, “A person at least eighteen (18) years of age who knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct (as defined in Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-221.5) with a child less than sixteen (16) years of age commits sexual misconduct with a minor, which is classified as a Level 5 felony​​.”

Under various circumstances, a person who commits with sexual misconduct with a minor, could face even more serious criminal charges. This can occur in situations where the offender is at least 21-years-old (a Level 4 Felony) or where serious enhancing circumstances apply (Level 1 Felony).

Enhancing Circumstances for Level 1 Felony Sexual Misconduct with a Minor

  • the offense is committed using or threatening the use of deadly force
  • the offense is committed while armed with a deadly weapon
  • the offense resulted in serious bodily injury
  • the offense was facilitated by furnishing the victim, without their knowledge, with a drug or controlled substance
  • the offense was facilitated by knowing the victim was furnished, without their knowledge, with a drug or controlled substance

In addition, the same law applies to situations that did not involve “sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct,” but instead involves the “fondling or touching with a child less than 16 years of age with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the older person.” However, criminal charges under this subsection of the law are slightly less severe. At it’s lowest level, this type of sexual misconduct with a minor is considered to be a Level 6 felony offense, with the charge being elevated to either a Level 5 felony for offenders over the age of 21 and a Level 2 felony, if any of the enhancing circumstances above apply.

Although the age of consent in Indiana is clear, Indiana law does allow younger people to engage in sexual activity with children who are under the age of 16. This law is called the Indiana Romeo and Juliet Law; and it allows for 14- and 15-year-olds to legally consent to sexual activity with their peers under certain conditions.

Prior to the passage of this law, high school students in dating relationships with other high school students risked being charged with a sex crime 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 be accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. If the allegations proved to be true, the junior could be committed to a juvenile facility and/or required to register as a sex offender in Indiana.

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

  • The person is no more than 4 years older than the victim
  • Both parties are in a dating relationship or ongoing personal relationship
  • The sexual act was not committed by using or threatening to use deadly force
  • The sexual act was not committed while armed with a deadly weapon
  • The sexual act did not result in serious bodily injury
  • The sexual act was not committed as the result of drugging the other person without his or her knowledge or knowing the victim was drugged without their knowledge
  • The sexual act was not committed by a person with substantial influence or in a position of authority over the victim
  • The person does not have a record of another sex offense
  • The person is not promoting prostitution

Accusations of violating the age of consent in Indiana can be disastrous for one’s personal and professional life; and if those accusations are eventually proven to be true, the repercussions of their actions could negatively impact their life for years to come. Those charged with sexual misconduct with a minor face a variety of criminal penalties, depending on the circumstances of the situation. Under the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, the potential penalties are as follows:

  • Level 6 felony: 6mos-2.5 years in prison; fines up to $10,000
  • Level 5 Felony: 1-6 years in prison; fines up to $10,000
  • Level 4 Felony: 2-12 years in prison; fines up to $10,000
  • Level 2 Felony: 10-30 years in prison; fines up to $10,000
  • Level 1 Felony: 20-40 years in prison; fines up to $10,000

In addition, anyone convicted of a Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 felony offense for sexual misconduct with a minor, must register as a sex or violent offender in Indiana, unless it was a Level 5 felony and the person is no more than four years older than the victim. In these situations, offenders would suffer additional obstacles to employment, housing, financial aid, relationships, and recreational activities, in addition to utter humiliation before friends and family.

There are very few things in life that are more important than your freedom and your future. However, mere allegations of a sex crime have the potential to derail your entire life, the one you worked so hard building for yourself. Given this, it’s vital to understand Indiana’s laws on the age of consent and to only engage in sexual activity with individuals who can explicitly and legally provide consent.

If you have been accused of engaging in sexual activity with minor, the best thing you can do is enlist the services of an experienced sex crimes attorney in Indiana. To take action now, contact the Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team will do everything it takes to secure the best results for you – whether that is a dismissal or reduction of charges, or a not guilty verdict. We will provide you with high-quality, dedicated criminal defense and stand by your side, from initial consultation to investigation, trial and criminal appeal.  

To begin tackling these allegations head-on, schedule your free case consultation with one of our attorneys today by calling 317-857-0160 or completing our online contact form.

Summary
What Is the Age of Consent in Indiana?
Article Name
What Is the Age of Consent in Indiana?
Description
This article addresses the topic of the age of consent in Indiana; as well as sexual consent, in general, and Indiana's Romeo and Juliet law.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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