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Ages of consent in North America

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Age of consent laws in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico
  Puberty
  Less than 12
  12
  13
  14
  15
  16
  17
  18
  19
  20
  Over 21
  Varies by state/province/region/territory
  Must be married
  No law
  No data available / Other
Age of consent laws in Central America
Age of consent laws in the Caribbean
Main article: Age of consent

The ages of consent in North America for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction.

The age of consent in Canada is 16. All U.S. states set their limits between 16 and 18.

The age of consent in Mexico is complex. Typically, Mexican states have a "primary" age of consent (which may be as low as 12), and sexual conduct with persons below that age is always illegal. Sexual relations which occur between adults and teenagers under 18 are left in a legal gray area: laws against corruption of minors as well as estupro laws can be applied to such acts, at the discretion of the prosecution. These laws are situational and are subject to interpretation.

The ages of consent in the countries of Central America range from 15 to 18.

The below is a list of all jurisdictions in North America as listed in List of sovereign states and dependent territories in North America.

Overview

The age of consent is the age at or above which a person is considered to have the legal capacity to consent to sexual activity. Both partners must be of legal age to give consent, although exceptions to the age of consent law exist in some jurisdictions when the minor and his or her partner are within a certain number of years in age or when a minor is married to his/her partner. Persons below the age of consent may not, by law, give consent, and sexual relations involving such persons may be punished by criminal sanctions similar to those for rape or sexual assault. Non-violent sexual contact with persons under the age of consent may be punished with varying degrees of severity, ranging from a misdemeanor with a simple fine, to a felony with a punishment equivalent to rape.

Different ages may apply if one partner is in a position of power or authority over the other, such as a teacher, manager, coach, parent or stepparent. For example, in Indiana the age of consent is 16 but it is illegal for a person over 18 to have sex with anyone under 18 if they work at their school, are their parent or a stepparent, or are a person recruiting them to join the military.

Historically, the age of consent applied to male-female relationships; same-sex relationships were often illegal regardless of the ages of participants. Modern laws vary, and there may be multiple ages that apply in any jurisdiction. For instance, different ages may apply if the relationship is between partners of the same sex, or if the sexual contact is not strictly vaginal intercourse.

Antigua and Barbuda

In Antigua and Barbuda, the age of consent is 16. The Sexual Offences Act of 1995 raised the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.[1][2]

  • Sexual Intercourse with female between fourteen and sixteen

6. (1) Where a male person has sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife with her consent and who has attained the age of fourteen years but has not yet attained the age of sixteen years, he is guilty of an offence, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for ten years.

(2) A male person is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) –

(a) if he honestly believed that the female person was sixteen years of age or more; or

(b) if the male person is not more than three years older than the female person and the court is of the opinion that the evidence discloses that as between the male person and the female person, the male person is not wholly or substantially to blame.

  • Sexual intercourse with male under sixteen

7. (1) Where a female adult has sexual intercourse with a male person who is not her husband and who is under the age of sixteen years, she is guilty of an offence, whether or not the male person consented to the intercourse, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

A female adult is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) –

(a) if she honestly believed that the male person was sixteen years of age or more; or

(b) if the female adult is not more than three years older than the male person and the court is of the opinion that evidence discloses that as between the female adult and the male person, the female adult is not wholly or substantially to blame.

Anguilla (United Kingdom)

The age of consent in Anguilla is 16. It is determined in Part 14 of the Criminal Code - SEXUAL OFFENCES -Sexual Offences Against Minors - by Article 143. "Sexual intercourse with person between 14 and 16 years of age".[3]

Aruba

The age of consent in Aruba is 15, as specified in Article 251 of the Criminal Code of Aruba (which Aruba adapted after its secession from the Netherlands Antilles) which reads:

Art 251: "A person who, out of wedlock, with a person who has reached the age of twelve but has not reached fifteen, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than eight years or a fine of at most 100 000 florin".[4]

Bahamas

In The Bahamas, the age of consent for opposite-sex activity is 16 and the age of consent for same-sex activity is 18. Homosexuality was legalized in 1991, but "public homosexuality" is an offense that carries a 20-year jail term without parole.[5]

11. (1) Any person who has unlawful sexual intercourse with any person being of or above fourteen years of age and under sixteen years of age, whether with or without the consent of the person with whom he had unlawful sexual intercourse, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for life subject to, on a first conviction for the offence, a term of imprisonment of seven years and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for the offence, a term of imprisonment of fourteen years.[6]

Barbados

In Barbados the age of consent is 16.

Section 5, part I ‘Sexual intercourse with person between 14 and 16’ of the Sexual Offences Act 1992

(1) Where a person has sexual intercourse with another with the other's consent and that other person has attained the age of 14 but has not yet attained the age of 16 that person is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term of 10 years.[7]

Belize

In Belize, the age of consent is 16 for all heterosexuals. Male homosexuality is criminalized (regardless of age).[8]

The legislation reads:

Criminal Code [CAP. 101][8]

  • Section 47.2

"Every person who (a) unlawfully and carnally knows any girl who is of or above the age of fourteen years but under the age of sixteen years (...) shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction thereof be imprisoned for a term which shall not be less than five years nor more than ten years."

  • Section 53. "Unnatural Crime"

“Every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

Bermuda and British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)

Age of sexual consent is 16, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.[9]

Canada

The Tackling Violent Crime Act took effect on 1 May 2008, raising the age of consent from 14 to 16.[10]

There exist two close-in-age exemptions, depending on the age of the younger partner. A youth of twelve or thirteen can consent to sexual activity with an individual less than two years older than they. A fourteen- or fifteen-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than five years older than they.[11]

Criminal law (including the definition of the age of consent) is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, so the age of consent is uniform throughout Canada. Section 151 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it a crime to touch, for a sexual purpose, any person under the age of 16 years. Section 153 then goes on to prohibit the sexual touching of a person under 18 by a person in three circumstances: if he or she is in a "position of trust or authority" towards the youth, if the youth is in a "relationship of dependency" with him or her, or if the relationship is "exploitative". The term "position of trust or authority" is not defined in the Code but the courts have ruled that parents, teachers, and medical professionals hold a position of trust or authority towards youth they care for or teach. Section 153 (1.2) of the Code provides that a judge can infer whether or not a relationship is "exploitative" by considering its nature and circumstances including how old the youth is, the difference in ages between the partners, how the relationship evolved, and the degree of control or influence that the older partner has over the youth.

The "position of trust under 18" anti-exploitation rules were expanded in 2005 by Bill C-2 where a judge may choose to term a situation to be sexual exploitation based on the nature and circumstances of the relationship including the age of the younger party, age difference, evolution of the relationship (how it developed, e.g. quickly and secretly over the Internet), the control or influence over the young person (degree of control or influence the other person had over the young person). This passed before the 2008 amendments, and they were not repealed so they are still in effect and can apply towards adults in these situations with young persons over the age of consent and under 18 (16-17).

Where an accused is charged with an offence under s. 151 (Sexual Interference), s. 152 (Invitation to sexual touching), s. 153(1) (Sexual exploitation), s. 160(3) (Bestiality in presence of or by child), or s. 173(2) (Indecent acts), or is charged with an offence under s. 271 (Sexual assault), s. 272 (Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party, or causing bodily harm), or s. 273 (Aggravated sexual assault) in respect of a complainant under the age of sixteen years, it is not a defense that the complainant consented to the activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge.

Anal intercourse in Canada

Section 159 of the Criminal Code criminalizes anal intercourse, but provides exceptions for a husband and wife, and any two persons 18 years of age or older. These exceptions do not apply if a third person is present, or if the anal intercourse takes place anywhere but in private.[12] However, courts in Ontario,[13] Quebec,[14] and Alberta[15] have independently declared s. 159 to be unconstitutional as violations of the equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

History of the Canadian age of consent

During the 19th century, the age of consent for heterosexual vaginal sex was 12; in 1890, the Parliament raised the age of consent to 14.[16] The punishment for anyone who had sexual intercourse with someone younger than 14 was life imprisonment and whipping, while the punishment for anyone who attempted to seduce an underage girl was two years' imprisonment and whipping.[17] Canada had also laws against "seducing" minor girls who were over the age of consent. In 1886, a law was enacted that made the "seduction" of a girl over 12 and under 16 "of previously chaste character" a criminal offence; the "seduction" of a female under 18 "under promise of marriage" was also made illegal in 1886, and amended in 1887 to apply to females under 21.[18] After the raising of the age of consent to 14, the laws against "seducing" minor girls were amended to apply to those older than 14, and various laws of this kind have remained in force through the 20th century.[18] The age of consent was raised from 14 to 16 in the spring of 2008, when the Tackling Violent Crime Act became effective. The new measures still allow for close-in-age exceptions between 12 and 16: if there is no more than a two-year gap for those 12 and 13, or a five-year gap for those 14 and 15. Anal sex remains illegal with exceptions for those over 18, if they comply with the restrictions set out under section 159.

Female homosexuality was never illegal in the former British colonies; oral sex was legalized in 1969 with the same age of consent as vaginal sex. Also introduced in 1969 were the exceptions regarding criminal anal sex (effectively legalizing it), but with a higher age barrier set at 21, under section 159; in 1988, the age barrier for these exceptions was lowered to 18. As of 2008 there are no plans to repeal section 159, even though it has been ruled unconstitutional in some Canadian provinces.

Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)

The age of consent in Cayman Islands is 16.[19]

Defilement of girls under sixteen years of age, etc.

134. (1) Whoever unlawfully and carnally -

(a) knows any girl under the age of twelve years is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for twenty years; or

(b) knows any girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen years is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for twelve years.

Indecent assaults on females

132. (1) It is an offence for a person to make an indecent assault on a woman.

(2) A girl under the age of sixteen cannot in law give any consent which would prevent an act being an assault for the purposes of this section.

Caribbean Netherlands

The age of consent in the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius) is 16, as specified by the Criminal Code BES, Articles 251, which reads:

Art 251: "A person who, out of wedlock, with a person who has reached the age of twelve but has not reached sixteen, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than sixteen years". Before prosecution, the public attorney will, if possible, allow the minor to indicate if prosecution is deemed desirable.[20]

Clipperton Island (France)

Clipperton Island is an uninhabited nine-square-kilometre (approx. 3.5-square-mile) coral atoll in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a state private property under the direct authority of the French government, administered by the Minister of Overseas France. The laws of France where applicable apply.[21] See Age of consent Europe#France.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica under the Penal Code of 2004, the age of consent is 15, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender (laws reformed in 2007).[22]

Artículo 159.- Será sancionado con pena de prisión de dos a seis años, quien aprovechándose de la edad, se haga acceder o tenga acceso carnal con una persona de uno u otro sexo, mayor de trece años y menor de quince años, por la vía oral, anal o vaginal, con su consentimiento. Igual pena se impondrá si la acción consiste en la introducción de uno o varios dedos, objetos o animales por la vía vaginal o anal. (...)

Translation: Article 159. Anyone who, taking advantage of age, attempts to obtain or obtains carnal access, by oral, anal or vaginal penetration, to a person of either sex who is over 13 and under 15 years of age, with his or her consent, shall be punished with two to six years' imprisonment. A similar penalty shall be imposed if the act involves the introduction of one or more fingers, objects or animals into the vagina or anus. (...)

Cuba

The age of consent in Cuba is 16.[23]

Curaçao (Netherlands)

The age of consent in Curaçao is 15, as specified by the Criminal Code of the Netherlands Antilles (which Curaçao didn't change after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles), Articles 251, which reads:

Art 251: "A person who, out of wedlock, with a person who has reached the age of twelve but has not reached fifteen, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than sixteen years".[24]

For children 12-14 prosecution only takes place upon a "complaint" by the minor, his parents, teacher, or the guardianship board.

Dominica

In Dominica the age of consent is 16.

‘Defilement of girls between fourteen (14) and sixteen (16) years of age’, Article 4 of the " Sexual Offences Act "

" (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), any person who - a) unlawfully and carnally knows, or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge of any girl of or above the age of fourteen (14) years and under the age of sixteen (16) years (...) - is liable to imprisonment for seven years.[25]

Dominican Republic

The age of consent in the Dominican Republic is 18.[26]

El Salvador

In El Salvador, the age of consent appears to be 18 (although the laws are not clear cut in regard to sexual acts with persons aged between 15 and 18).

  • CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 15:

VIOLACIÓN EN MENOR O INCAPAZ

Art. 159.- El que tuviere acceso carnal por vía vaginal o anal con menor de quince años de edad o con otra persona aprovechándose de su enajenación mental, de su estado de inconsciencia o de su incapacidad de resistir, será sancionado con prisión de catorce a veinte años.[27][28]

Approximate translation: "Anyone who has vaginal or anal sexual intercourse with a minor younger than fifteen years of age or of another person by taking advantage of their insanity, their state of unconsciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished with imprisonment of fourteen to twenty years."

  • CHILDREN AGED BETWEEN 15 AND 18:

Several laws apply to sex with persons aged between 15 and 18.

Article 169 makes it illegal to "promote, facilitate, manage, finance, instigate or organize in any way the use of persons under eighteen years of age in sexual or erotic acts individually or organized, publicly or privately".

Art. 169.- El que promoviere, facilitare, administrare, financiare, instigare u organizare de cualquier forma la utilización de personas menores de dieciocho años en actos sexuales o eróticos, de manera individual u organizada, de forma pública o privada, será sancionado con pena de tres a ocho años de prisión.

En igual responsabilidad incurrirá quien con conocimiento de causa autorizare el uso o arrendare el inmueble para realizar cualquiera de las actividades descritas en el inciso anterior.[27]

Approximate translation: Article 169 .- Any person who promotes, facilitates, manages, finances, instigates or organizes in any way the use of persons under eighteen years of age in sexual or erotic acts, individually or organized, publicly or privately, shall be punished with penalty of three to eight years in prison.

Similarly, anyone who knowingly authorizes the use or rents a property to perform any of the activities described in the preceding paragraph, incurs criminal liability.

Article 167 makes it illegal to "promote or facilitate the corruption of a person under eighteen (...) through various sexual acts of carnal knowledge, even if the victim consents to participate in them".

CORRUPCIÓN DE MENORES E INCAPACES

Art. 167.- El que promoviere o facilitare la corrupción de una persona menor de dieciocho años de edad o de un deficiente mental, mediante actos sexuales diversos del acceso carnal, aunque la víctima consintiere participar en ellos, será sancionado con prisión de seis a doce años.[27]

Approximate translation: Article 167 .- Any person who promotes or facilitates the corruption of a person under eighteen years of age or a mentally handicapped through various sexual acts of carnal knowledge, even if the victim consents to participate in them, shall be punished with imprisonment of six to twelve years.

Article 171 deals with "obscene exhibition", and also appears to set the age of consent at 18.

EXHIBICIONES OBSCENAS

Art. 171.- El que ejecutare o hiciere ejecutar an otros actos lúbricos o de exhibición obscena, o indecorosa, en lugar público o expuesto al público o bien ante menores de dieciocho años de edad o deficientes mentales, será sancionado con prisión de dos a cuatro años.[27]

Approximate translation: Art. 171. Anyone who performs or makes others perform acts of lewd or lascivious exhibition, or indecency in a public place or a place open to the public or to minors under eighteen years of age or mentally handicapped, shall be punished with imprisonment from two to four years.

Articles 163 and 154 of the Penal Code (Código Penal) deal with estupro and make it illegal to use deception (engaño) or to take advantage of one's superiority (superioridad) that arises from a relationship in order to gain sexual access to teenagers aged between 15 and 18.

ESTUPRO

Art. 163.- El que tuviere acceso carnal por vía vaginal o anal mediante engaño, con persona mayor de quince años y menor de dieciocho años de edad, será sancionado con prisión de cuatro a diez años.[27]

Approximate translation: Art. 163. "Anyone who has vaginal or anal intercourse, by using deception, with a person over fifteen and under eighteen years of age, shall be punished with imprisonment of four to ten years".

ESTUPRO POR PREVALIMIENTO

Art. 164.- El que tuviere acceso carnal por vía vaginal o anal con persona mayor de quince y menor dieciocho años de edad, prevaliéndose de la superioridad originada por cualquier relación, será sancionado con prisión de seis a doce años.[27]

Approximate translation: Art. 164. "Anyone who has vaginal or anal intercourse with a person over fifteen and under eighteen years of age, relying on the superiority arising from any relationship, shall be punished with imprisonment from six to twelve years."

Greenland (Denmark)

The laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply.[29] See Ages of consent in Europe#Denmark.

Grenada

The age of consent in Grenada is 16.Penalties are 30 years’ imprisonment if the victim is less than 14, and 15 years’ imprisonment if the victim is 14 to 16 years of age.[30]

Guadeloupe (France)

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#France.

Guatemala

In Guatemala, the age of consent is 18, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender. The Law against Sexual Violence, Exploitation, and Trafficking in Persons was passed in February 2009, and provides sentences ranging from 13 to 24 years in prison, depending on the young persons age, for sex with a minor.[31]

Haiti

The age of consent in Haiti is 18.[32]

Honduras

According to the U.S. State Department, Honduras, the age of consent is considered to be 18.[33][34]

There are age of consent laws in Decree No.234-2005. Having sex with a minor under age 14 may be punished with a 15-20 year prison sentence. In addition there is an estupro law where criminal penalties are established if a person older than 14 and younger than 18 is deceived (estupro se cometa mediante engaño) the criminal penalty for the person who deceived him/her is between 5–7 years in prison, and if a person uses his or her authority/confidence/hierarchy while having sex with someone of that age group the penalty is 6–8 years in prison.[35]

Jamaica

In Jamaica the age of consent is 16.

‘Above twelve (12) and under sixteen (16)’, Article 50, " Offences Against the Person "

" Whosoever shall unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any girl being above the age of twelve (12) years and under the age of sixteen (16) years shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years;[36]

Martinique (France)

For this section, see Ages of consent in Europe#France.

Mexico

Legislative framework

In Mexico, criminal legislation is shared between the federal and state governments. The federal law establishes the age of 12 as the minimum age of consent, while the age at which there are no restrictions for consensual sexual activities is 18 (sex with someone 12-18 is not illegal per se, but can still be open to prosecution under certain circumstances). Local state laws may override the federal law. In practice, the decision as to whether or not to prosecute is left to state authorities regardless of the younger person's age. At state level, the minimum ages of consent vary between 12 (and puberty in a few states) and 15, while the age at which there are no restrictions for consensual sexual activities vary from 16 to 18 (most common 18).

"Estupro"

Estupro is a crime existing across Mexico, as well as in other Latin American jurisdictions. Although the definitions vary by state, it is usually defined as sexual conduct with a child who has reached the minimum age of consent but is under 18 (16 or 17 in some states) when the consent of the child is obtained by seduction and/or deceit. For instance the law of Aguascalientes reads: "El estupro consiste en realizar cópula con persona mayor de doce y menor de dieciséis años de edad, obteniendo su consentimiento por medio de seducción o engaño." (translation: Estupro consists in copulating with a person over twelve and under sixteen years old, obtaining his/her consent through seduction or deceit). Traditionally, estupro applied only to acts committed with a girl, and required "chastity" or "honesty" of the girl. The vast majority of Mexican states have modernized their laws by removing the requirement of "chastity" or "honesty" and by making the laws gender neutral. However, traditional laws still exist in some states: for instance, the law of Baja California reads: Al que realice cópula con mujer de catorce años de edad y menor de dieciocho, casta y honesta, obteniendo su consentimiento por medio de la seducción o el engaño (translation: "Whoever copulates with a chaste and honest female over fourteen and under eighteen years old, obtaining her consent through seduction or deceit"). Some states have removed the requirement of "chastity" or "honesty", but continue to define estupro as applicable only to girls. For instance, in Campeche the law states: Al que tenga cópula con mujer mayor de doce años pero menor de dieciocho, obteniendo su consentimiento por medio de la seducción o el engaño (translation: "Whoever copulates with a female over twelve and under eighteen years old, obtaining her consent through seduction or deceit"). The exact type of coercion that must be used varies by state, for example the Federal Law only makes reference to "deceit", omitting "seduction" (it reads: Al que tenga cópula con persona mayor de doce años y menor de dieciocho, obteniendo su consentimiento por medio de engaño, translation: "Whoever copulates with a person over twelve and under eighteen years old, obtaining his/her consent through deceit").[37][38]

Federal Law

Article 261 of the Federal Criminal Code (PDF) states that: ”Whoever, without the purpose of reaching copulation, performs a sexual act in a person under 12 or in a person that has no capacity of understanding the meaning of the act or that for any reason cannot resist, or demands that the act is performed, will be punished with a term of 2 to 5 years in prison”. If the offender uses moral or physical violence, an extra half term is added to the initial time.

Article 266 refers to the previous article 265, which covers the rape of adults in general and establishes a term of 8 to 14 years in prison for sex obtained through physical or moral violence. Article 266 then states that: "It is equivalent to rape and will be punished with the same penalty: (1st Clause) – who without violence performs a copulation with a person under 12”. The 3rd Clause of this article punishes with the same penalties also “the vaginal or anal introduction of objects, without violence and with lascivious goals”, in a person under 12 or in a person that has no capacity of understanding the meaning of the fact, or for any reason cannot resist. If any of the aforementioned acts is performed with physical or moral violence, the sentence is raised in up to a half.

A further article, 266 Bis, determines an extra penalty of up to a half under certain circumstances – (a) when there are multiple offenders; (b) when the offense is committed by a parent, legal guardian, stepfather or “companion” (amasio) of the mother; (c) when there is an abuse of authority of someone as a civil servant; (d) when the crime is committed by a person who has the minor under his or her custody, guard or education, or yet through the abuse of trust.

There is another crime in Article 262 for consented sex with adolescents aged 12 to 18, when consent is obtained through deceit. The penalty is 3 months to 4 years in prison. This crime, however, is prosecuted only through a complaint of the minor or his/her parents or legal guardians, as determined in Article 263.

Artículo 262 del Código Penal: " Al que tenga cópula con persona mayor de doce años y menor de dieciocho, obteniendo su consentimiento por medio de engaño, se le aplicará de tres meses a cuatro años de prisión."[39]

Translation: Article 262: "Whoever copulates with a person over twelve and under eighteen years old, obtaining his/her consent through deceit"

Article 201 prohibits the "corruption" of a minor under 16.[39]

Further reading:

Local laws

State Minimum age of consent
(sex with persons under this age is always illegal)
Age at which there are no restrictions
(sex with persons below this age is not illegal per se, but it is still open to prosecution)
"Violación
equiparada"
"Estupro"
Aguascalientes 12 16 125 122
Baja California 14 18 177 182
Baja California Sur 12 18 286 290
Campeche 12 18 234 230
Chiapas 12 18 157 bis 155
Chihuahua 14 18 172 177
Coahuila 12 16 386 394
Colima 14 18 209 211
Distrito Federal 12 18 181 bis 180
Durango 14 18 394 388
Guanajuato 12 16 181 185
Guerrero 12 18 140 145
Hidalgo 12 18 180 185
Jalisco 12 18 176 142-I
México 15 18 273 271
Michoacán 12 16 240 243
Morelos 12 18 154 159
Nayarit Puberty 18 260 258
Nuevo León 14 18 266 262
Oaxaca 12 18 247 243
Puebla 12 18 272 266
Querétaro 12 18 161 167
Quintana Roo 12 18 127 130
San Luis Potosí 12 16 152 149
Sinaloa 12 18 180 184
Sonora 12 18 219 215
Tabasco 12 17 150 153
Tamaulipas 12 18 275 270
Tlaxcala 14 18 221 291
Veracruz 14 16 182 185
Yucatán 13 16 315 311
Zacatecas 13 18 237 234

All Mexican states (as well as Mexico City) have corruption of minors statutes that can, upon complaint of the family (or minor), be used to punish sexual relations with persons under eighteen. It should be noted that while actual prosecutions for violations of Corruption of Minors statutes (and age of consent statutes in general) tend to be sporadic, regional, and very situation dependent, many Mexican states nonetheless classify Corruption of Minors as a "Delito Grave" (Grave Crime) in their penal codes.

Additionally, all the states have "Estupro" laws that can, upon complaint of the family (or minor), be used to prosecute adults who engage in sexual intercourse with minors by seduction or deceit (the exact definitions of this crime vary by state, see section estupro, above).

In some Mexican jurisdictions prosecutors have chosen to prosecute consensual sexual activity involving adults and underage minors only upon complaint by the minor, or a custodial complaint.

Federal District

The age of consent in the Federal District (Mexico City) is 12, one of the lowest in the world, and the overall criminal legislation of Mexico's capital is close to that of the federal law regarding this subject, although tougher in some aspects – higher penalties and broader definitions.

According to the Estatuto del Gobierno del Distrito Federal (PDF)(in Spanish) (Government Statute of the Federal District), Article 42, Clause XII, the District's Legislative Assembly has powers to legislate in criminal law.

Article 175 of the Federal District Criminal Code refers to the previous Article 174, which stipulates a term of 6 to 17 years of prison for the rape of adults, while defining copulation as “the introduction of the penis in the human body through the vagina, anus or mouth”. Article 175 (violación) then states that: "It is equivalent to rape and will be punished with the same penalty: (1st Clause) – who performs a copulation with a person under 12 years of age or with a person that has no capacity of understanding the meaning of the act or that for any reason cannot resist”; The 2nd Clause defines as committing the same crime whoever “introduces in the vagina or anus any element, instrument or any part of the human body different from the penis”, in relation to these same persons.

Article 177 covers “sexual abuse” and punishes other acts referred as “unintentional” acts –“who without purpose of reaching copulation, performs a sexual act with a person under 12 or a person that has no capacity of understanding the meaning of the act or that for any reason cannot resist it, or that demands that such act is observed or performed, will be punished with 2 to 7 years in prison”.

In both Articles (175 and 177), there is an extra half term in case of physical or moral violence. And according to Article 178, there is also a punishment of an extra two thirds of the term under the same circumstances foreseen in Article 266 Bis of the Federal Law (see above), added by two new circumstances – (clause V) when the victim is inside a private vehicle or a public service vehicle; and (clause VI) when the crime is committed in a desert or isolated place.

There is a crime called estupro stipulated in Article 180, which refers to consented sex with adolescents aged 12 to 18, when consent is obtained through any means of deceit. The penalty is 6 months to 4 years of prison. This crime needs a complaint (querella) to be prosecuted.

There is a Corruption of Minors statute (Article 184) that can be used to punish by imprisonment, for seven to twelve years, adults who engage in sexual relations with persons under eighteen. This situation exists all over Mexico, and can be prosecuted upon complaint of victim or the victim's family.

Montserrat (United Kingdom)

The age of consent in Montserrat is 16.[40]

Unlawful sexual intercourse with girl under age of sixteen

121.(1) Subject to the provisions of the section, a man who has unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl above the age of thirteen and under the age of sixteen shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for two years.

(2) It is immaterial in the case of a charge for an offence under this section that the intercourse was had with the consent of the girl concerned.

Indecent assault on a woman

122.(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, any man who makes an indecent assault on a woman shall be guilty of an offence and liable— (...)

(2) A girl under the age of sixteen years cannot in law give consent which would prevent an act being an assault for the purposes of this section.

Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, the age of consent is 18, although, in regard to young people 16-17, the law (Article 175) is not clear cut.

Article 170. Statutory rape[41]

Anyone who is married or in a stable de facto union or who is of age and who, without violence or intimidation, has or allows carnal access with a person aged between 14 and 16 shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of two to four years.

Article 175. Sexual exploitation, pornography and paid sexual acts with adolescents

Anyone who induces, provides, promotes or uses persons aged under 16 or a disabled person for sexual or erotic purposes, forcing them to witness or participate in an act or show in public or in private, even if the victim consents to witness or participate in such an act, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of five to seven years, or four to six years if the victim is aged between 16 and 18.

(...)

Article 168. Rape of children under the age of 14

Anyone who has or allows carnal access with a person aged under 14 or who, for sexual purposes, inserts or forces the victim to insert a finger, object or instrument, by way of the vagina, anus or mouth, with or without consent, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 12 to 15 years.

Article 172. Sexual abuse

Anyone who engages in lewd acts with or improper touching of another person, without their consent, (...)

In no circumstances shall the victim be considered to have given consent if the victim is under the age of 14 or has a mental disability or illness.

Panama

In Panama, the age of consent is in general 18, although sexual conduct with children aged 14 to 18 is not always illegal.[42]

Artículo 176. Quien, valiéndose de una condición de ventaja, logre acceso sexual con persona mayor de catorce años y menor de dieciocho, aunque medie consentimiento, será sancionado con prisión de dos a cuatro años

Translation: Article 176. Whoever, using a condition of advantage, achieves sexual intercourse with a person over fourteen and under eighteen, even with consent, shall be punished with imprisonment from two to four years

This does not apply if the age difference is less than 5-years and the partners are in a stable couple relationship.

No se aplicarán las sanciones señaladas en este artículo cuando entre la víctima y el agente exista una relación de pareja permanente debidamente comprobada y siempre que la diferencia de edad no supere los cinco años.

Translation: The sanctions provided in this article do not apply if there is a couple relationship duly established between the victim and the agent, and the age difference does not exceed five years.

Puerto Rico (United States)

The age of consent in Puerto Rico is 16.[43]

Article 142.- Sexual Assault.- Any person who performs sexual penetration, whether vaginal, anal, oral-genital, digital or instrumental under any of the following circumstances shall incur a second degree felony:

(a) When the victim has not attained the age of sixteen (16) years at the time of the commission of the crime

(...)

Article 144.- Lewd Acts.- Any person who without the intention to consummate the crime of sexual assault described in Article 142 submits another person to an act that tends to awaken, excite or satisfy the sexual passion or desire of the accused, under any of the following circumstances hereinbelow, shall incur a third degree felony.

(a) When the victim has not attained the age of sixteen (16) years at the time of the commission of the crime

(...)

Saint Kitts and Nevis

The age of consent in Saint Kitts and Nevis is 16.[44]

Saint Lucia

The age of consent in Saint Lucia is 16.[45]

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

The age of consent in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is 15.[46] The penalty for statutory rape of a girl over 13 but under 15 is five years' imprisonment; under 13 it is life imprisonment.[47]

Sint Maarten (Netherlands)

The age of consent in Sint Maarten is 15, as specified by the Criminal Code of the Netherlands Antilles (which Sint Maarten didn't change after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles), Articles 251, which reads:

Art 251: 1. "A person who, out of wedlock, with a person who has reached the age of twelve but has not reached fifteen, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than sixteen years".[24]

Prosecution for the violation of the above article only takes place upon a "complaint" by the minor, his parents, teacher, or the guardianship board (Art 251, 2. 3. 4.)[48]

Trinidad and Tobago

The age of consent in Trinidad and Tobago is 18, as per the Children Act, 2012.[49] It was raised from 16 to 18 in 2015.[50]

The Children Act, 2012 defines a "child" as "a person under the age of eighteen years".

18. Subject to section 20, a person who sexually penetrates a child commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.

19. (1) Subject to section 20, where a person touches a child and– (a) the touching is sexual; and (b) the child is under sixteen years of age, the person commits an offence.

(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable– (a) on summary conviction, to a fine of fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for ten years; or (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for twenty years. (3) Where a person commits an offence under subsection (1), and the touching involves the placing of any body part or of an object onto the penis or bodily orifice of a child, that person is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life.

Three close-in-age exemptions exist, as per section 20:

20. (1) A person sixteen years of age or over but under twenty-one years of age is not liable under section 18 if– (a) he is less than three years older than the child against whom he is purported to have perpetrated the offence; (b) he is not in a familial relationship with the child nor in a position of trust in relation to the child; (c) he is not of the same sex as the child; and (d) the circumstances do not reveal any element of exploitation, coercion, threat, deception, grooming or manipulation in the relationship.

(2) A person fourteen years of age or over but under sixteen years of age is not liable under section 18 or 19 if– (a) he is less than two years older than the child against whom he is purported to have perpetrated the offence; (b) he is not in a familial relationship with the child nor in a position of trust in relation to the child; (c) he is not of the same sex as the child; and (d) the circumstances do not reveal any element of exploitation, coercion, threat, deception, grooming or manipulation in the relationship.

(3) A person twelve years of age or over but under fourteen years of age is not liable under section 18 or 19 if– (a) he is less than two years older than the child against whom he is purported to have perpetrated the offence; (b) he is not in a familial relationship with the child nor in a position of trust in relation to the child; (c) he is not of the same sex as the child; and (d) the circumstances do not reveal any element of exploitation, coercion, threat, deception, grooming or manipulation in the relationship.

United States

General ages of consent in the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the inhabited U.S. territories

The United States is a federation of states where the age of consent laws are made at the state, territorial, and federal district levels. There exist several federal statutes related to protecting minors from sexual predators, but none of them imposes an age limit on sexual acts. On 26 June 2003, both heterosexual and homosexual sodomy became legal in all U.S. states, territories, and the federal district under the U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas[51] (between non-commercial, consenting adults in a private bedroom). In State v. Limon (2005), the Kansas Supreme Court used Lawrence as a precedent to overturn the state's "Romeo and Juliet" law, which proscribed lesser penalties for heterosexuals than homosexuals convicted of similar age of consent related offenses.[52]

Each U.S. state (and the District of Columbia) has its own age of consent. Currently state laws set the age of consent at 16, 17, or 18. The most common age is 16.[53]

United States Virgin Islands (United States)

Paraphrasing Virgin Islands Code: V.I.C. § 1700-1709 Virgin Islands Code and appeals records Francis vs. VI NOTE: "mistake of fact as to the victim's age is not a defense". The age of consent is 18. There is however a close-in-age exemption that allows minors 16 and 17 years old to consent with someone no more than five years older than themselves and minors 13 to 15 years old to consent with one another, but not with anyone 16 or over.

Article § 1700. Aggravated rape in the first degree bans sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child under 13. Sexual acts with minors are aggravated by the use of force, intimidation, or the perpetrator's position of authority, and by the fact that the minor, being under 16 and not the perpetrator's spouse, is residing in the same household as the perpetrator.(see Article § 1700, Article § 1702, Article § 1708).

Other relevant articles of the criminal code are:

  • § 1702. Rape in the second degree

(a) Any person over 18 years of age who perpetrates under circumstances not amounting to rape in the first degree, an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a person not the perpetrator's spouse who is at least 16 years but less than 18 years of age, and the perpetrator is 5 years or older than the victim, is guilty of rape in the second degree and shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years.

  • § 1703. Rape in the third degree

Any person under 18 years of age but over 16 years of age who perpetrates an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a person not the perpetrator's spouse who is under 16 years of age but over 13 years of age, under circumstances not amounting to rape in the first degree, is guilty of rape in the third degree and shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Family Division of the Superior Court

"Sexual contact", that is, non-penetrative sex, defined as "the intentional touching of a person's intimate parts, whether directly or through clothing, to arouse or to gratify the sexual desires of any person" is not permitted with children under 16, but a close-in-age exemption allows those aged at least 13 to engage in such acts with partners under 18.

  • § 1708. Unlawful sexual contact in the first degree

A person who engages in sexual contact with a person not the perpetrator's spouse— (..)(2) when the other person is under thirteen years of age;

  • § 1709. Unlawful sexual contact in the second degree

A person over eighteen years of age who engages in sexual contact with a person not the perpetrator's spouse who is over thirteen but under sixteen years of age is guilty of unlawful sexual contact in the second degree and shall be imprisoned not more than 1 year

See also

References

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  8. ^ a b "CAP 101 CRIMINAL CODE ACT" (PDF). Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  9. ^ "Caribbean GBV Law Portal: Country Resources: British Virgin Islands - UN Women – Multi-Country Office – Caribbean". Field Office Caribbean. 
  10. ^ "Canada's age of consent raised by 2 years". CBC News. 1 May 2008. 
  11. ^ SACC Website Team. "Sexual Assault Care Centre: Since You Asked: The Law - SACC provides emergency nurse, medical care, information thoughts feelings collect physical evidence help legal". Sacc.to. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
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  17. ^ Social Laws of Canada and Ontario summarised for the use of Children's Aid Societies and Social Workers, 1914
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  21. ^ .https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ip.html
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  33. ^ "2014 Human Rights Reports: Honduras." U.S. State Department. Retrieved on August 6, 2015. "The legal age of consent is 18. There is no statutory rape law, but the penalty for rape of a minor under the age of 12 is 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment. It is nine to 13 years’ imprisonment if the victim is age 13 or older."
  34. ^ "HONDURAS 2012 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT." U.S. State Department. p. 17/25. Retrieved on August 6, 2015. "The legal age of consent is 18. There is no statutory rape law, but the penalty for rape of a minor under the age of 12 is 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment; it is nine to 13 years’ imprisonment if the victim is 13 or older."
  35. ^ "DECRETO No.234-2005" (Archive). Supreme Court of Honduras. Retrieved on August 6, 2015. On p 3/8: "Tales casos serán sancionados con pena de quince(15) a veinte(20) años de reclusión y son los siguientes: 1) Cuando la víctima sea menor de catorce(14) años de edad" - Page 4/8: "ARTICULO 142.-El estupro de una persona mayor de catorce(14) y menor de dieciocho(18) años prevaliéndose de confianza, jerarquía o autoridad, ses ancionará con pena de seis(6) a ocho(8) años de reclusión. Cuando el estupro se cometa mediante engaño se sancionará con pena de cinco(5) a siete(7)años de reclusión."
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  48. ^ http://decentrale.regelgeving.overheid.nl/cvdr/XHTMLoutput/Historie/Nederlandse%20Antillen/2364/2364_1.html
  49. ^ "Act No. 12 of 2012" (PDF). ttparliament.org. 
  50. ^ Bruzual, Alexander (September 13, 2015). "Age of sexual consent raised to 18". Trinidad Express. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  51. ^ http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/02-102P.ZO
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