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What is Statutory Rape Law and Punishments in Massachusetts?

All States of the U.S. prescribe a certain minimum age of consent to willingly have sexual activities with adults, failing which the adult participant may be convicted of sexual assault, possibly statutory rape if such activity involves sexual penetration. An adult is anyone above the age of 18 years, but the minor involved may be of any age under the notified age of consent which varies from 16 to 18 years depending on the jurisdiction.

Exceptions to this prohibition are part of Romeo Juliet Laws or close-in-age exemptions. Not all States permit these exceptions, but those who do allow minors to have sexual contact with individuals who are not older than a prescribed age difference with the said minor.

Statutory rape proceedings, unlike rape trials, do not admit any evidence of the consent of the victim or probe into the use of force, abuse of authority or prohibited means to commit the crime to establish the occurrence of the crime. The said means are only probed to determine the gravity of the felony and the prescription of the conviction.

Massachusetts Statutory Rape Law
The legal maxim that minors are ineligible to give consent for sexual contact bears supreme precedence over the entire trial and consent of the minor victim is immaterial. Additionally, in most jurisdictions, even strict liability is enforced i.e. accused is not exempt from the charges even if he/she mistakenly believes the minor as someone having the legal age of consent.

In the State of Massachusetts, the age of 16 years is defined as the minimum age of consent as per Mass. Gen. Laws. Ann. ch. 265, § 23 but if the individual minor has been leading a chaste life till the age of 18 years, such a minor shall be deemed to be without the age of consent in circumstances of induced unlawful sex as prohibited by Mass. Gen. Laws. Ann. Ch. 272 §4.

Inducement of Unlawful Sex invites incarceration in state prison or a house of correction for 2.5 to 3 years with or without a fine of $1,000. Moreover, the Law distinguishes between forcible rape of a child and statutory rape and stipulates a sentence for the former as Imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years.

Statutory Rape Law Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of the few States without legalization of sodomy (unless discovered through unlawful means in case of adults) and it has no close in age exemptions and explicitly states in MGL. c.265,§ 23 that even a person under the age of 16 years is not permitted to have sex, be it natural or unnatural, with another minor under the age of 16 years.

It is possible that both minor participants of the sexual act be convicted of Statutory Rape under this law. The age difference between the defendant and victim is only probed to ascertain the terms of conviction of the accused. If the defendant has a prior record of sexual offenses, the sentence is governed by MGL c.265, § 23B. In this case, irrespective of the accused being a minor or an adult, the conviction entails life imprisonment or jail time for any term of years which may be in a house of correction. For a previously convicted sex offender, the minimum term is stipulated as 20 years without probation, parole or furlough.

Massachusetts Rape Laws

There are also specific provisions under MASS. GEN. LAWS. ANN. ch. 265, § 23A to identify aggravated statutory rape wherein:

  • The defendant is at least five years older to a victim aged less than 12 years.
  • The defendant is at least 10 years older to a victim aged 12-16 years.
  • The defendant was a mandated reporter at the time of the intercourse i.e., teacher, doctor, child advocate, etc.

Massachusetts Sex Offender Search

People who are registered as Massachusetts sex offenders have public records registered to their names; thanks to these public sex offender registries, you are able to find Massachusetts sex offenders. In the past, you would have had to contact local law enforcement agencies to find out who is a registered Massachusetts sex offender. These days, sex offender registries are available online, so you can easily discover who has violated Massachusetts statutory rape laws.

To find out who is a sex offender, you can look up public records on GoLookUp; for an individual search, enter the name of a person into the website's criminal records directory. The search will yield a report that includes, among other details, the person's sex violations.

You can also perform a search based on zip codes; enter a Massachusetts zip code into the directory, and the website will search public records in that area. At the end of the search, you will be provided with a report that includes the names of the sex offenders who live in that zip code, their mugshots, the crimes that they committed, and much more information.