What is the Age of Consent in Virginia?
There are numerous discussions regarding the age of consent in Virginia on the internet, most of which are confusing. It’s imperative as an adult or teenager to understand exactly what aged person(s) you may, in accordance with Virginia law, engage in consensual sexual acts with.
In Virginia, the terms “carnal knowledge” or “carnally knows” are used to describe various sexual acts (see Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-63(c)), including:
- sexual intercourse (traditional sex),
- cunnilingus (oral sex – male on female),
- fellatio (oral sex – female on male),
- anilingus (oral sex – mouth to anus),
- anal intercourse (anal sex), and
- animate and inanimate object sexual penetration (vaginal or anal “fingering” or penetration by any object)
There are two offenses that a person may be charged with if he or she engages in consensual (without the use of force) sexual acts with a person not of legal age.
1) §18.2-63 Carnal knowledge of child between thirteen and fifteen years of age (also known as Statutory Rape)
A. If any person carnally knows, without the use of force, a child thirteen years of age or older but under fifteen years of age, such person shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.
Explanation – If you are 18 years old or older and carnally know a child aged 13-14 without the use of force, you are committing a Class 4 felony. If force was involved you would be committing a more serious crime.
B. If any person carnally knows, without the use of force, a child thirteen years of age or older but under fifteen years of age who consents to sexual intercourse and the accused is a minor and such consenting child is three years or more the accused’s junior, the accused shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. If such consenting child is less than three years the accused’s junior, the accused shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.
Explanation – 1) If you are less than 18 years old, the child is aged 13-14, and the child is 3 or more years younger than you, you are committing a Class 6 felony (example: 17 yo with 13 yo).
Explanation -2) If you are less than 18 years old, the child is aged 13-14, and the child is less than 3 years younger than you, you are committing a Class 4 misdemeanor (example: 16 yo with 14 yo).
** In calculating whether a child is three years or more younger than you, the actual dates of birth are used.
** A felony is the most serious category of offenses. There are six classes of felonies – Class 1 is the most serious and Class 6 is the least serious. A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony. There are four classes of misdemeanors – Class 1 is the most serious and Class 4 is the least serious.
2) § 18.2-371. Causing or encouraging acts rendering children delinquent, abused, etc.; penalty; abandoned infant (also known as Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor)
Any person 18 years of age or older, including the parent of any child, who (i) willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act, omission, or condition that renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected as defined in § 16.1-228 or (ii) engages in consensual sexual intercourse or anal intercourse with or performs cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus upon or by a child 15 or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Explanation – 18.2-371(i) is not a sexual offense, but 18.2-371(ii) is, and applies only to individuals 18 years of age or older – it does not apply to minors. If you are 18 years of age or older and engage in any of the sexual acts mentioned above with a child aged 15-17, without the use of force, you are committing a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If you are 18 years of age or older, you are not legally permitted to engage in sexual acts with anyone less than 18 years old.
If you are less than 18 years old, you are not legally permitted to engage in sexual acts with anyone less than 15 years old.
Below are some interactions that are legal:
18 year old and 18 year old
17 year old and 17 year old
17 year old and 16 year old
17 year old and 15 year old
16 year old and 16 year old
16 year old and 15 year old
15 year old with a 15 year old
Paduano v. Commonwealth, 64 Va. App. 173 (Va. Ct. App. 2014)
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Read more about Sex Crimes in Virginia.