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Until the late 20th century many states had provisions requiring that the teenage girl must be of previous "chaste character" in order for the sexual conduct to be considered criminal. However, if the offender is 17 years old or younger, has a clean record, and such sexual activity was consensual, Youthful Offender status (a pre-trial diversionary program that seals the court record and results in a dismissal of charges) may be granted. A juvenile offender 13 years old and younger would be charged as a "serious juvenile offender" under C. 2) Intentionally engages in sexual intercourse with another person, and the victim has not yet reached that victim's eighteenth birthday, and the person is 30 years of age or older, except that such intercourse shall not be unlawful if the victim and person are married at the time of such intercourse.
In 1998 Mississippi became the last state to remove this provision from its code. Any juvenile offender 14 years old or older has the case automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court by operation of law, and thus stands before the court to be tried as an adult. However, in 2009 Senate Bill 185 amended the text of article 768 from anyone under 16 years to anyone under 18 years.
The age of consent in Colorado is 17; however, there exists in the legislation close-in-age exceptions, which allow those aged 15 and 16 to engage in acts with those less than ten years older and those less than 15 to engage in acts with those less than four years older. Bill 1139 was introduced in 2011 to decriminalize sexual relationships between children 13–16 years old and those fewer than five years older, but the bill failed to pass.
After the 1995 Landry and Forrest study concluded that men aged 20 and older produced half of the teenage pregnancies of girls between 15 and 17, states began to more stringently enforce age-of-consent laws to combat teenage pregnancy in addition to prevent adults from taking advantage of minors. Kercher of the Criminal Justice Center of Sam Houston State University wrote that these laws are often referred to as "Romeo and Juliet laws", though they defined Romeo and Juliet as only referring to an affirmative defense against prosecution. forbids the use of the United States Postal Service or other interstate or foreign means of communication, such as telephone calls or use of the internet, to persuade or entice a minor (defined as under 18 throughout the chapter) to be involved in a criminal sexual act. § 2260) makes it a federal crime to possess or create sexually explicit images of any person under 18 years of age; this creates a federal age of consent of 18 for pornography. Consensual sexual intercourse over the 3-year age difference (where the minor is 13 to 15 years old) would subject the older party to a charge of Sexual Assault, 2nd Degree, in violation of C. A person is guilty of unlawful sexual contact in the second degree when the person intentionally has sexual contact with another person who is less than 18 years of age or causes the victim to have sexual contact with the person or a third person Senate Bill 185 762(d)specifies a close-in-age “affirmative defense” for 12 to 15 year olds. — As to sexual offenses in which the victim's age is an element of the offense because the victim has not yet reached that victim's sixteenth birthday, where the person committing the sexual act is no more than 4 years older than the victim, it is an affirmative defense that the victim consented to the act "knowingly" as defined in § 231 of this title.
Depending on the jurisdiction, the legal age of consent ranges from age 16 to age 18.