Age of Consent Wooden BlocksThe age of consent is the age a person must be to engage in sexual contact with an adult willingly. In Massachusetts, the age of consent is 16 years old. It is a crime to engage in sex acts with anyone under 16 years old, even if the defendant is also under 16.

Both consensual and nonconsensual sexual assault and battery of a minor may be charged as child rape in Massachusetts. For this reason, it’s vital to involve a Massachusetts sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible after an accusation of sexual assault on a minor.

Sexual Assault of a Child Under 16

Sex with a child under 16 is more commonly known as statutory rape. Since state law decrees that children do not have the legal ability to consent to sexual activity, it doesn’t matter if the minor under 16 agreed to sexual intercourse or initiated the sex acts. These cases cannot be continued or placed on file—there must be a finding of guilty or not guilty.

Sexual assault of a victim under 16 years old is a felony offense, punishable by a term of at least 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. If convicted, a defendant will not be eligible for probation, parole, work release, furlough, or other sentence deduction until at least 10 years have been served. If the defendant has been convicted of previous offenses, the mandatory minimum is raised to 15 years.

Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not have a “Romeo and Juliet” exemption for a defendant and victim who are both underage. However, the age gap between the defendant and victim can play a role during sentencing.

The above penalties apply in sexual assault cases where a victim is: 

  • Under 12 years of age, and there is more than a five year age difference between the defendant and the victim
  • Between 12 and 16 years old, and there is more than a 10 year age difference between the defendant and the victim
  • Assaulted by a mandated reporter at the time of such intercourse. A mandated reporter is someone required by law to report suspected instances of child abuse, such as teachers, caregivers, doctors, nurses, counselors, or members of the clergy

Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14

Defendants could face aggravated child rape charges if the victim was under 14 when the abuse occurred. Potential penalties for these crimes include:

  • Indecent assault and battery. A defendant who has sex with, or touches in a sexual way, a victim under the age of 14 may be charged with indecent assault and battery of a child. Depending on the circumstances, a defendant may be imprisoned in a house of correction for up to 2.5 years or remain in state prison for up to 10 years.
  • Sex with a child during the commission of a crime. Indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14 is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment if it was committed during a burglary, armed burglary, breaking and entering, kidnapping, armed or unarmed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, home invasion, or exhibiting the child in a state of nudity or sexual conduct. If convicted, the defendant will not be eligible for parole, work release, probation, furlough, or other sentence deduction until at least 10 years of the sentence have been served. If the defendant has been convicted of previous offenses, the mandatory minimum is raised to 15 years.
  • Sexual assault of a minor by a mandated reporter. If the defendant was a mandated reporter when the assault occurred, a conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment, with no parole or probation until at least 10 years have been served.

Let Us Advise You After an Accusation of Indecent Assault of a Minor

In times like these, you need someone who can give you straightforward legal advice and ensure that your rights are protected throughout your criminal case. At Nate Amendola Defense, we do everything we can to prevent conviction, registration on the sex offender list, and long prison sentences.

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Nate Amendola
Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, helping resolve OUI, domestic violence, drug and criminal charges