Oregon Statutory Rape Laws

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

In Oregon, it is illegal for an adult (someone 18 or older) to have sex with a minor (someone younger than 18), even if the sex is consensual. Those who break the law have committed statutory rape.

Statutory rape laws are premised on the assumption that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. Their incapacity is written into the statute—hence the term, “statutory” rape. 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.

Though statutory rape does not require that the prosecutor prove an assault, it is still rape. Of course, rape that does involve force or an assault is illegal in Oregon and prosecuted as forcible rape. Assaults of a sexual nature may also be charged under the state’s assault and battery laws. (For information about rape between spouses, see Marital Rape Laws.)

Oregon’s Statutory Rape Laws and Potential Penalties

In Oregon, statutory rape includes sex (or other sexual behaviors) between an adult and someone younger than 18. The crime is broken into several categories, explained below.

Getting Legal Guidance
The information in this article provides an overview of the law relating to statutory rape. If you are trying to determine the legality of any kind of conduct, make sure to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. The law is complex and changes regularly.

Rape in the first degree includes consensual sex between a minor who is younger than 12 and a defendant of any age. This offense is a Class A felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $375,000, up to 20 years in prison, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.625, 163.375 (2017).)

Rape in the second degree includes consensual sex between a minor who is 12 or 13, and a defendant who is at least three years older than the victim. This offense is a Class B felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $250,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.625, 163.345, 163.365 (2018).)

Rape in the third degree includes consensual sex between a minor who is 14 or 15, and a defendant who is at least three years older than the victim. This offense is a Class C felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $125,000, up to five years in prison, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.625, 163.345, 163.355 (2018).)

First degree unlawful sexual penetration includes sexual penetration (with a body part or object other than the penis or mouth) that occurs between a minor younger than 12 and a defendant of any age. This offense is a Class A felony, which can incur a fine of up to $375,000, up to 20 years in prison, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.625, 163.411 (2018).)

Second degree unlawful sexual penetration includes sexual penetration between a minor who is 12 or 13, and a defendant who is at least three years older than the victim. This offense is a Class B felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $250,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.625, 163.345, 163.408 (2018).)

First degree sexual abuse includes sexual contact (sexual touching, other than penetration, meant to arouse or gratify sexual desire) between a minor younger than 14 and a defendant who is at least three years older. This offense is a Class B felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $250,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.625, 163.345, 163.427 (2018).)

Second degree sexual abuse includes sexual penetration, oral sex, or anal sex between a minor who is 14, 15, 16, or 17 and a defendant over the age of 21 who is or was the victim’s coach. Punishments can include imprisonment and post-prison supervision, depending on such factors as the defendant’s criminal history. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 163.425, 163.426 (2018).)

Third degree sexual abuse includes sexual contact between a minor who is 14, 15, 16, or 17, and a defendant who is at least three years older. This offense is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $6,250, up to one year in jail, or both. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.615, 161.635, 163.345, 163.415 (2018).)

Oregon’s Sodomy Laws

Oregon’s laws against sodomy (oral and anal sex) are organized similarly to its laws against rape. Generally, the younger the victim and the older the defendant, the more severely the crime can be punished. (Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 163.385, 163.395, 163.405 (2018).) For example, a man who has sexual intercourse with a boy could be convicted of sodomy.

Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge

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.” But, under Oregon law, some other defenses can apply in statutory rape cases.

When Both Parties Are Minors: The “Romeo and Juliet” Exception

Named after Shakespeare’s young lovers, “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions are intended to prevent serious criminal charges against teenagers who engage in consensual sex with others close to their own age. In Oregon, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption that protects from prosecution consensual sex between two minors who are younger than 18 and fewer than three years apart in age. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 163.345 (2018).)

However, sexual contact with a child under the age of 12 is always a serious crime, no matter the age of the defendant. A conviction for engaging in sexual activity with someone younger than 12 years old can result in up to 20 years in prison.

Mistake of Age

Defendants accused of statutory rape often claim that they had no reason to know that their partner was underage. They may argue that the victim herself represented that she was older than she was, and that a reasonable person would have believed her. But even if this is true, a defendant cannot rely on a mistake of age—even a reasonable one—to avoid conviction in Oregon. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 163.325 (2018).)

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a statutory rape charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. Laws can change at any time, and a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties (such as, for example, probation instead of prison time) and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.

Help for Sexual Assault and Rape Survivors

If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, contact Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for online help and local resources.

Updated August 9, 2018

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