Oklahoma Statutory Rape Laws

Statutes governing Oklahoma's age of consent, associated criminal charges, available defenses, and penalties for a conviction.

By , Attorney · University of Houston Law Center
Updated 9/26/2023

Oklahoma law makes it illegal for a person to have consensual sexual activity with a minor younger than 16, with a few exceptions (see below). Anyone who engages in such unlawful conduct can face charges of statutory rape or sexual battery.

Statutory rape laws are premised on the assumption that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. The age of consent can vary among states, and some states differentiate between consensual sex between minors who are close in age (for example, two teenagers of the same age), as opposed to sex between a minor and a much older adult. Keep in mind that engaging in any sexual activity without the other person's consent can result in more serious charges and penalties, no matter what the age of the other person.

What Is the Age of Consent in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, the age of consent is 16. Anyone who engages in sexual activity with a child younger than 16 can face charges for statutory rape or a similar crime. For these age-based sexual offenses, it's immaterial whether the child consented to the activity or not. The child's age is the important fact, as it determines whether that person can legally consent to sexual activities.

Oklahoma's Statutory Rape Laws and Penalties

Statutory rape is prosecuted under Oklahoma's rape and sex crime laws. Penalties depend on the ages of the defendant and victim and the conduct that occurred. Second and subsequent convictions can result in harsher penalties.

First-Degree Rape: Victim Younger Than 14

First-degree rape involves consensual sex (which includes vaginal or anal intercourse or penetration, however slight, by a body part or object) between a minor who is younger than 14 and a defendant who is 18 or older. First-degree rape constitutes a felony, punishable by five years to life in prison.

Second-Degree Rape: Victim Age 14 or 15

Second-degree rape includes consensual sex between a minor younger than 14 and a defendant who is younger than 18. It also includes consensual sex between a minor who is 14 or 15 and a defendant who is 18 or older. Rape in the second degree is a felony, which carries one to 15 years in prison.

Sexual Battery: Victim Younger Than 16

A person commits sexual battery by touching the body or private parts of a minor who is younger than 16 in a lewd or sexual manner. To be convicted under this provision, the defendant must be at least three years older than the victim. A guilty defendant faces three to 20 years in prison, except when the child is younger than 12, in which case, the potential penalty is at least 25 years' imprisonment.

Does Oklahoma Have a Romeo-and-Juliet Law?

Yes, with limitations. 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. Oklahoma provides a Romeo-and-Juliet exception for consensual sex between two minors who are at least 14 but younger than 18. However, engaging in sex with a child under the age of 14 is always a serious crime, and a conviction can result in a sentence of up to life in prison.

Defenses and Exceptions to a Statutory Rape Charge in Oklahoma

Defendants charged with sex-related crimes of minors in Oklahoma 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 statutory 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. While many offenders attempt to use consent as a defense, this does not constitute a sufficient defense in sex crime prosecutions involving a victim younger than 16.

Mistake of age. Oklahoma, like many states, 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.

Marriage. Oklahoma has a marital exemption for statutory rape that allows consensual sex between a married minor and their adult spouse even though their ages would prohibit it if they were not married. The marital defense is a remnant of the marital rape exemption.

Sex Offender Registration for Statutory Rape in Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Sex Offender Registration Act requires people convicted of certain sexual crimes (including statutory rape) to register as sex offenders. Depending on the level of the offense, registration lasts from 15 years to life. Failure to register can result in additional felony charges and penalties.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you're facing charges relating to statutory rape, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. A lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution's case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to the unique circumstances of your case. A knowledgeable attorney can also advise you on how the law will apply to your set of facts.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §§ 1111, 1112, 1114, 1115, 1116, 1123; tit. 57, §§ 582 and following (2023).)

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