LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | Mar 17, 2016

Age of consent by state

Most states have laws that prohibit individuals under a certain age from being able to consent to sex. Learn about age of consent laws and what the specific rules are in your state.

Defining the age of consent

Many states have statutory rape laws prohibiting sexual conduct with a minor regardless of whether the minor consented.

Age of consent: the age at which a minor can voluntarily agree to sexual intercourse.

Most states set the age of consent at 16 years, but some states set it at 17 or 18 years of age. So, even though an individual who is under the age of consent is physically able to say “yes” or “no” to sexual conduct, the law does not recognize their consent. Sex with anyone younger than this age is classified as statutory rape.

Close-in-age provisions

Close-in-age provisions, also called “Romeo and Juliet laws” allow a person who is under the age of consent to legally consent to sex as long as the older person is only a few years older than they are. For instance, if the age of consent is 16, a close-in-age provision might allow someone who is 15 to legally consent to intercourse with someone who is the age of 16 or 17, but not to anyone older than that.

The table below lists states in which sex between two minors of similar age is not considered a crime. However, even if your state does not have a close-in-age provision, a judge may still take the age difference into consideration when sentencing.

Marriage

In many states, marriage overrides any age of consent law, and the younger person can consent to sexual contact with their spouse, and no one else.

These laws vary widely from state to state. Check your state’s legal code to find out what the laws apply to your jurisdiction, and confirm your interpretation of the law with an attorney.

Age of consent by state
  Age of consent Close-in-age provision
Alabama 16 yes
Alaska 16 yes
Arizona 18 no
Arkansas 16 no
California 18 no
Colorado 17 yes
Connecticut 16 yes
District of Columbia 16 yes
Delaware 18 yes
Florida 18 yes
Georgia 16 yes
Hawaii 16 yes
Idaho 18 yes
Illinois 17 no
Indiana 16 no
Iowa 16 yes
Kansas 16 no
Kentucky 16 yes
Louisiana 17 yes
Maine 16 yes
Maryland 16 yes
Massachusetts 16 no
Michigan 16 no
Minnesota 16 yes
Mississippi 16 yes
Missouri 17 no
Montana 16 yes
Nebraska 17 no
Nevada 16 no
New Hampshire 16 yes
New Jersey 16 yes
New Mexico 17 yes
New York 17 no
North Carolina 16 yes
North Dakota 18 no
Ohio 16 no
Oklahoma 16 yes
Oregon 18 yes
Pennsylvania 16 yes
Rhode Island 16 no
South Carolina 16 no
South Dakota 16 no
Tennesse 18 yes
Texas 17 no
Utah 18 yes
Vermont 16 yes
Virginia 18 no
Washington 16 yes
West Virginia 16 yes
Wisconsin 18 no
Wyoming 18 yes

Can’t find what you’re looking for?


Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer