Kansas law makes it illegal for anyone (an adult or minor) to engage in consensual sexual activities with a minor younger than 16. Violators of this law commit one of several criminal offenses.
Age-based sex offenses are commonly known as statutory rape crimes. Kansas doesn't use the term "statutory rape." Rather, the state places such crimes with similar nonconsensual sex crimes based on the type of sexual conduct and age of the victim. For teenage couples who are close in age, these acts are still illegal but may result in less serious penalties under the state's law on unlawful voluntary sexual relations.
The age of consent in Kansas is 16.
The crime of rape in Kansas involves sexual intercourse (vaginal penetration, however slight) with a child who is under 14 years old. If the offender is 18 or older, statutory rape constitutes an off-grid person felony, which carries life in prison and a $500,000 fine. Otherwise, it's a severity level 1, person felony, punishable with 147 to 653 months (approx. 12 to 54 years) in prison and a $300,000 fine.
A person commits the crime of aggravated indecent liberties with a child by engaging in (vaginal) sexual intercourse with a child age 14 or 15. Such an offense is a severity level 3, person felony and subjects the defendant to 55 to 247 months (approx. 4.5 to 20.5 years) in prison and a $300,000 fine. (For close-in-age teenagers, check out the section below on unlawful voluntary sexual relations.)
Sodomy involves oral or anal sexual conduct. Criminal sodomy occurs when the victim is a child who is 14 or 15 years old. This offense constitutes a severity level 3, person felony, punishable by 55 to 247 months (approx. 4.5 to 20.5 years) of prison and a $300,000 fine. (For close-in-age teenagers, check out the section below on unlawful voluntary sexual relations.)
Aggravated sodomy happens when the victim is under the age of 14. If the offender is 18 or older, aggravated sodomy constitutes an off-grid person felony, which carries life in prison and a $500,000 fine. Otherwise, it's a severity level 1, person felony, punishable with 147 to 653 months (approx. 12 to 54 years) in prison and a $300,000 fine.
(Note: While the statutory language still makes same-sex acts illegal, a Kansas court held part of this statute to be unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.)
In Kansas, a person who engages in voluntary sexual activity (including sexual intercourse or sodomy) with a child who is 14 or 15 years old commits the less serious crime of unlawful voluntary sexual relations when:
For example, an 18-year-old defendant who engaged in sexual activities with her 15-year-old boyfriend could be convicted of unlawful sexual relations instead of indecent liberties or sodomy. Depending on the sexual conduct involved, unlawful voluntary sexual relations is a level 8, 9, or 10, person felony, punishable by 5 to 23 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Acts short of sexual intercourse or oral or anal sex can also lead to criminal charges when involving an underage child.
Indecent solicitation of a child. Asking or inviting a child to engage in sexual conduct can lead to charges for indecent solicitation of a child, even if nothing sexual ever occurs between the defendant and the child. If the child is 14 or 15 years old, the crime is a severity level 6, person felony, subjecting the defendant to 17 to 46 months (approx. 1.5 to 4 years) in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. Aggravated indecent solicitation involves a child who is under 14 years old. Such an offense constitutes a severity level 5, person felony. A guilty defendant faces 31 to 136 months (approx. 2.5 to 10.5 years) in prison and a $300,000 fine.
Indecent liberties with a child. Lewd fondling or touching of a child who is 14 or 15 years old, with the intent to arouse or satisfy a sexual desire is another type of offense under the crime of indecent liberties with a child. Under these circumstances, indecent liberties constitute a severity level 5, person felony, which carries penalties of 31 to 136 months' (approx. 2.5 to 10.5 years) imprisonment and a $300,000 fine. If the child does not consent, the charges become aggravated. Such an offense is a severity level 4, person felony, punishable by 38 to 172 months (approx. 3 to 14 years) in prison.
Aggravated indecent liberties with a child. When the lewd fondling or touching happens to a child under 14 and the defendant is 18 or older, the offender faces an off-grid person felony, which carries life in prison and a $500,000 fine. Defendants under 18 who commit these acts with a child under 14 can receive a severity level 3, person felony conviction and face 55 to 247 months (approx. 4.5 to 20.5 years) in prison and a $300,000 fine.
Defendants charged with sex-related crimes have several potential defenses available to them. At the same time, the law prohibits or limits the use of certain defenses.
Actual innocence. Defendants charged with rape or a similar crime have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, such as "Someone else committed this crime," or "The alleged conduct did not occur."
Consent. Consent is not a defense in the above-referenced crimes. For certain offenses, consent may decrease the severity level of a crime.
Mistake of age. Kansas doesn't recognize a mistake-of-age defense for sex crimes involving underage victims, even if the defendant's belief was reasonable or the child lied about their age or looked older.
Marital exemption. While statutory language references a marital exception for sexual acts committed with a child younger than 14, Kansas law no longer allows marriages when one party is younger than 15.
"Romeo and Juliet" exception. In many states, "Romeo and Juliet" exceptions, named for Shakespeare's teenage lovers, protect young people from criminal charges for engaging in consensual sexual conduct with others close to their own age. Kansas' unlawful voluntary sexual relations law (discussed above) does not exempt such conduct from criminal prosecution but carries a less severe punishment than sexual contact between an older adult and a child.
Kansas Offender Registration Act requires people convicted of certain sexual crimes to register as sex offenders. These crimes include age-based offenses for rape, indecent liberties with a child, criminal sodomy, and indecent solicitation of a child. The law requires convicted adults to register for 15 years, 25 years, or life depending on the crime. If a defendant receives a second or subsequent conviction for an offense that requires registration, they must register for life. Failure to register constitutes a felony, which can be punished more severely after each subsequent failure.
If you're charged with statutory rape or a related crime as a result of engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of consent, contact a Kansas criminal defense attorney. A conviction for a sex crime can have serious and lasting consequences, including time in prison and sex offender registration. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
(Kan. Stat. §§ 21-5204, -5501, -5503, -5504, -5506 to -5508, -6611, -6804; 22-4901 et seq.; 23-2505 (2021); State v. Franco, 49 Kan. App. 2d 924, 934-35 (2014); State v. Limon, 280 Kan. 275 (2005).)