The age of consent in Connecticut is 16 years old. This means minors who are 15 years of age or younger in the state cannot legally consent to sexual activity.
If an adult holds a position of authority (e.g. teacher, coach, etc.) over the minor and he/she is more than 20 years old, then the age of consent increases to 18 years of age or older. Keep in mind, any person who is over 18 years of age cannot legally engage in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent—no matter the age difference between the two parties.
However, minors over 13 years old can legally consent with another individual if both parties are three years apart at most. Minors under 13 years of age can legally consent and the ages are two years apart or less.
The exceptions above are known as the “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions. Additionally, there is a marital exemption that allows married or cohabitating couples to have consensual sex despite the age of consent laws.
Alas, if an adult who is at least 18 years old has sex with someone younger than 16, he/she can be charged with statutory rape, which is prosecuted under Connecticut’s sexual assault laws. The penalties are based on the ages of both parties.
The following are the crimes and penalties for statutory rape in Connecticut:
- First-degree sexual assault – This charge is given when sexual intercourse occurs between a 12-year-old minor (or younger) and a person who is two years older than the child. First-degree sexual assault is a Class A felony, punishable by a maximum 25-year prison term and a fine of up to $20,000.
- Second–degree or third-degree sexual assault – These charges are given when sexual intercourse occurs between a 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old minor and a person who is over three years older. Second-degree sexual assault is a Class B, while third-degree sexual assault is a Class C felony. A Class B felony carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and a fine no more than $15,000, while a Class C felony is punishable by a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a fine no more than $10,000.
- Fourth-degree sexual assault – This charge is given when sexual contact (without penetration) occurs between a 12-year-old minor and a person who is two years older than the child, or sexual contact between a 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old minor and a person who is over three years older. Fourth-degree sexual assault is a Class D felony, punishable by a maximum five-year prison term and a fine not exceeding $5,000.
In addition, people who are convicted of sex crimes in Connecticut must register as sex offenders. Being labeled a sex offender can make it extremely difficult to obtain employment, apply for college, find a place to live, and take advantage of other opportunities in life.