Most people would consider an adult individual who has sexual contact with a minor to be a predator, but sometimes this is not the case. It is very easy to misunderstand the age of consent laws, and these laws can change between states.

Understanding age of consent laws and their nuances can help you avoid a difficult and stressful encounter with the law. According to Age of Consent, the age of consent in the state of Virginia is 18.

What does this mean?

In the event that you are above the age of 18, this means that you cannot have any sort of sexual contact with individuals who are under it. This prohibition ranges from actual physical sexual contact to exposing the minor individual to pornography or having chats via SMS or other messenger system regarding sexual acts.

If the person above 18 violates this, the courts may prosecute him or her for statutory rape.

Are there any exceptions?

Virginia does have a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law, also known as a close in age exemption. There are two different exemptions in Virginia. The first exemption allows teens between the ages of 15 and 17 to engage in sexual contact. The second allows minors between the ages of 13 and 15 to do the same thing. How the court interprets these exemptions depends on the situation. They may either exclude minor couples from prosecution, or in event of prosecution the exemptions may be the defense.

This does theoretically mean that if an individual who is 18 has sexual contact with an individual who is 17 that the courts may prosecute the 18-year-old for statutory rape, but this is rare.