In Kansas, a person who participates in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 (the age of consent) can be convicted of statutory rape, sodomy, or indecent liberties with a child.
For a statutory rape conviction, it is immaterial whether the child consents to the activity. It is the child’s age that is the important fact. People who engage in sexual activity against others without their consent can be convicted of rape, sexual battery, or assault, no matter what the victim’s age. (For more information on assault laws and penalties in Kansas, see our articles on simple assault and battery in Kansas and Kansas aggravated assault and battery laws.)
Rape. A person in Kansas commits the crime of rape by engaging in sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14. (Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-5501, 21-5503 (2018).)
Indecent liberties with a child. Under Kansas’s laws, a person commits the crime of indecent liberties with a child by engaging in any sexual activity with a child at least 14 years old, but under the age of 16. The crime is punished more severely if the defendant and the child engage in sexual intercourse. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5506 (2018).)
Unlawful voluntary sexual relations. In Kansas, a person who engages in voluntary sexual activity (including sexual intercourse or sodomy) with a child who is at least 14 year old but younger than 16 commits the less serious crime of unlawful voluntary sexual relations when:
(Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5507 (2018).)
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.
It is also a crime to engage in sodomy (oral or anal sex) with a child under the age of 16. Sodomy is punished more severely if the child is under the age of 14. (Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-5501, 21-5504 (2018).)
Asking or inviting a child to engage in sexual conduct can lead to charges for child enticement, even if nothing sexual ever occurs between the defendant and the child. (Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-5508, 21-5509 (2018).)
Judges in Kansas have discretion to choose a sentence based on the state’s sentencing guidelines and the defendant’s prior criminal history.
For more information on Kansas’s complicated sentencing scheme, see Kansas Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Sodomy or rape of a child under the age of 14 is a severity level 1, person felony (if the defendant is under the age of 18), punishable by 147 to 653 months in prison and a fine of up to $300,000, and an off-grid person felony (if the defendant is 18 years old or older), punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000.
Sodomy of a child between the ages of 14 and 16 is a severity level 3, person felony, punishable by 55 to 247 months in prison and a fine of up to $300,000.
Indecent liberties is a severity level 5, person felony, punishable by 31 to 136 months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $300,000. If sexual intercourse is involved, indecent liberties is a severity level 3, person felony.
Depending on the sexual conduct involved, unlawful voluntary sexual relations is a level 8, 9, or 10, person felony, punishable by a maximum term of 23 months in prison.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-5503, 21-5504, 21-5506, 21-5507, 21-6611 (2018).)
Defendants charged with statutory rape have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, such as “Someone else committed this crime,” or “The alleged conduct did not occur.” One or more of the following defenses may also apply.
Marriage of the defendant and the child at the time of the sexual activity is a defense to a charge of statutory rape, sodomy, or indecent liberties. This defense originates from the marital rape exemption. (Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-5503, 21-5504, 21-5506 (2018).)
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’s unlawful voluntary sexual relations law does not exempt such conduct from criminal prosecution, but it is punished less severely than sexual contact between an adult and a child. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5507 (2018).)
Generally, a defendant’s mistaken belief in the age of the victim is not a defense to statutory rape or similar crimes.
For example, the fact that a defendant believed a child to be over the age of consent is not a defense to a crime, even if the defendant’s belief was reasonable because the child lied about his or her age, looked older, and had older friends.
People convicted of rape, sodomy, and indecent liberties in Kansas must register as sex offenders. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4902 et seq.)
If you are charged with statutory rape or any other crime as a result in engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of consent, you should 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. The law can change at any time, and an attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, contact Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for online help and local resources.
Updated September 11, 2018