LOCK UP YOUR SONS:
Allow me to begin part two of this series with a caveat/disclaimer. THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES THE CRIME OF STATUTORY RAPE. This is a very difficult subject to discuss in any context. This article makes the argument that in some cases, North Carolina law is harsh on people convicted of this crime, making this discussion much more difficult. Please understand I am in no way excusing this crime, attempting to victimize defendants charged with this crime, or diminishing the devastating effect it can have on the young people who are the real victims. A person found by a jury of his peers to have committed this crime, and not within the exceptions I lay out below, should be subjected to the harshest punishment the law allows (in most cases). The purpose of this article is to point out a very startling flaw in our law and hopefully prevent young people from destroying their lives.
So caveats aside, lets begin with a real life example.
Joe (obviously not his real name) is an 18 year old high school senior. Joe comes from a hard working lower middle class family from rural North Carolina. It takes everything for Joe’s family to make ends meet and they can only afford one car. Joe’s mom works the night shift and has the family car at night while his dad uses the car during the day to get to his job at a local factory. Joe has no way of going out to see friends, so when he is not at school he usually sits at home. He is not much into sports but would still be considered by most to be “athletic”. His teachers would say that he is a good student, with mostly As, Bs and Cs on his report cards, and what he lacks in intellect, he more than makes up for with his pleasant, peaceful personality. Like most kids of today, Joe spends a great deal of his time socializing through social media. His parents bought a computer a few years ago and, since he is stuck at home most of the time anyway, he spends hours online chatting with friends on Facebook. Joe would like to go to college but he knows his family can’t afford it. Therefore, his goal is to join the Navy after high school and earn a college degree in a computer field through the military G.I. bill.
One night on Facebook Joe is chatting with a girl from his school. She is a sophomore whom he has known for some time. She has a friend from another school at her house and tells Joe about the friend. The friend’s name is Sonia. Sonia logs in to Facebook and asks Joe to be her Facebook “friend”. Joe accepts the request and he and Sonia quickly hit it off. After a few months of general discussions on a daily basis, it becomes apparent to Joe that his relationship with Sonia is more than the normal Facebook friendship. The two talk to each other on Facebook with every free moment. At some point hormones get the better of Joe and Sonia and the discussions begin to take a more sexual tone. Most Facebook discussion between the two end with some form of sexual invitation from either Joe or Sonia. In total there are over two hundred printed pages of disussions between the two that at times discuss very “adult” topics.
Through Facebook Joe and Sonia make several attempts to meet with each other at various places, but are never successful. After several failed attempts to meet, the two finally end up at the same public event and for the first time after months of online discussions, meet face to face. Within minutes they find a secluded location and begin to engage in sexual intercourse. Soon thereafter an adult, who has been searching for Sonia, find the two in the act.
Lets take a moment here elaborate on a few things. First, Sonia is approximately 5’7″ and to be as delicate as possible, is easily a size DD chest. At no time during their discussions did the subject of Sonia’s age ever come up between Joe and Sonia. After I read their posts, I had no reason to believe Sonia wasn’t sexually knowledgable if not also sexually active. Sonia would later tell investigators that Joe never forced her to do anything and the sexual acts she performed were of her own volition.
So, HERE COMES THE BOMBSHELL. As it turns out, Sonia, at the time they were caught in the act, was 12 years old.
Joe was arrested on the spot and taken in front of a magistrate where he was charged with the felony of statutory rape and given a $100,000 bond.
In North Carolina, in order to convict a person of the level of statutory rape for which Joe was charged, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
1)Had sexual intercourse
2)With a child under the age of 13 years
3)Who is at least four years younger than the defendant, and the defendant
4)Was at least 12 years old.
Notice what is missing from those elements. The state is not required to prove that the defendant knew the victim was under 13. The burden is met by showing the victim was under 13 regardless of what the defendant knew or thought. And this is where the problem arises with the law in this context. In our hypo I mentioned that Joe and Sonia never discussed her age. Joe was introduced to Sonia through a mutual friend who was a sophomore at his school and, after seeing her pictures and talking to her on Facebook he had no reason to question her age or ever imagine she was 12 years old. Sonia’s own mother would later plead the court for mercy on behalf of Joe because she considered her daughter to be the aggressor and because her daughter did not look to be 12. Suppose Joe had asked her how old she was and she told him she was 16. Suppose further she even showed him a fake ID to back up her claim. Surely, in that case Joe could not be found guilty of this crime. WRONG!!!!! Under the letter of the law, if the state proves that Sonia was under 13 and they had intercourse, regardless of how convincing her fake ID may have been, Joe is guilty.
So, what sort of time does a person like Joe face if convicted of this crime? Even a good kid like Joe, with no prior convictions of any sort, MUST be sentenced to a minimum of 192 months in prison if convicted of this charge. FYI that is 16 years in prison.
The theme of this two part blog is “Two North Carolina Laws That Can Ruin Your Child’s Life”. Admittedly, Joe and Sonia’s situation is a bit unique. It is the exception that a 12 year old would be as physically and sexually mature as Sonia. However, research strongly suggests that young girls are becoming sexually mature and active at a much earlier age. There are two other types of Statutory Rape that are not nearly as unique and can equally “Ruin Your Child’s Life.”
1) Statutory Rape of a Person Who is 13, 14, or 15 Years Old and the Defendant is More Than Six Years Older,
2)Statutory Rape of a Person Who is 13, 14, or 15 Years Old and the Defendant is More Than Four Years Older, But Less Than Six.
With each of these two offenses, like in Joe’s case, the State is not required to prove that the defendant knew the victim’s age. Again, therein lies the problem. Either of these two laws could be violated by a high school student with a school mate. Number one above could arise where a high school senior, old for his class and therefore 19, has intercourse with a high school freshman who is young for her class. The punishment for such an act, the same as for Joe, a minimum of 16 years.
Number two above is the situation I see most. It’s easy to imagine all the possible scenarios where this charge could arise. It is entirely conceivable that a person could be charged with this crime for having sexual intercourse with someone only two grades behind him in school, regardless of how old she looked, how old she claimed to be, how old others stated she was, or any other logical excuse. The good news for this offender is that he will not face a minimum of 16 years in prison. He will only spend 58 months, or just short of 5 years, in prison even with a spotless record.
The title of this article, “Lock Up Your Sons” is a bit facetious. But in a sense, considering our statutory rape laws don’t require the state to prove that a defendant knew a victim was underage, it may really be the only way to prevent your son from having a fate similar to that of Joe.