The age of consent here in Indiana is 16. That means that if you’re 18 or older, you can get into serious legal trouble if you’re accused of having sexual contact with someone younger than 16.

What Does Indiana Law Say About Sexual Conduct with a Minor?

In the eyes of the law in the Hoosier state, no one is legally capable of giving their consent to sexual activity until they’ve reached the age of 16.

Here are the possible legal consequences for these criminal charges.

  • You’re at least 18 and the alleged victim is older than 14 but younger than 16. In this scenario, the charge is sexual misconduct with a child. If intercourse, oral or anal sex is proven, you could be facing six years in jail and $10,000 in fines. Without intercourse, potential jail time lessens to 2 ½ years and $10,000 in fines.
  • You’re at least 18 and the alleged victim is younger than 14. This is considered child molestation. The charge carries up to 50 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • You’re an adult accused of “sexting” with someone younger than 14. This is referred to as child solicitation. Such charges can stem from trying to convince a minor to perform some sexual act. This includes such messages made through writing, cell phone, computer, etc. For this offense, you could be facing up to 2 ½ years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

However, there are a few exceptions:

  • The minor is married. Here in Indiana, the legal age for marriage is 15.
  • Close in age. This is often referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet Clause.” Simply put, this law gives a bit of leeway to couples who (1) are both younger than 21 years old, (2) are no more than four years apart in age, (3) are in a dating relationship, and (4) have both given mutual consent.

As you can see, the penalties for being convicted of violating the age of consent laws are indeed stiff.

Do I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

Beyond the potential jail time and heavy penalties, you’ll have to sign up as a registered sex offender if you’re convicted. This could devastate your life even more.

Indiana law requires you to remain on the list for at least 10 years. Your name could remain on the list for the rest of your life if you’re convicted of the most serious sex crimes.

Because the sex offender database is searchable and visible to just about anyone, it can absolutely wreck your personal and professional life. Your ability to find housing, obtain a loan, or keep a job could be in serious jeopardy for years to come.

What Are Defenses to Sex Crimes and Age of Consent Charges?

Although charges for age of consent violations are very serious, they can be successfully defended against.

  • It didn’t happen. In many instances, innocent people go through the nightmare of facing these charges due to false accusations. Because of the explosive nature of the charge, some former girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses will use the claims as a way of “getting even.”
  • You were mistaken about their age. If you and your criminal defense attorney can prove that it’s reasonable to be mistaken about the age of the alleged victim, you may be cleared of the charges.
  • You’re legally married or in a relationship with someone close in age. If you meet the age and relationship limits outlined above, you could use the Romeo and Juliet defense.
  • There’s not enough evidence. The state has a high bar to clear to actually prove such charges. If there’s not enough evidence to support the claims against you, the charges may be thrown out.
  • Your rights were violated. Law enforcement are required to follow certain rules while investigating the charges against you. If your criminal defense attorney can prove that your Constitutional rights were violated, key parts of evidence may be thrown out.

Even if you are completely innocent of the charges, the smart move is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney if you’ve been accused.

With too much on the line, you simply cannot afford to take your chances alone when facing such charges. Call a criminal defense attorney and let them do the talking for you. The main goals are to keep you out of jail and off the sex offender registry list.