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What is the Age of Consent in Louisiana?

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

In the United States, the age of consent is defined as the minimum age at which a person's consent to sexual intercourse is legally valid. In simple terms, having sex with anyone below this age is illegal.

In the United States, the age of consent is determined by each state, so the ages of consent vary. This applies to you whether or not you are a minor (someone who cannot consent to sex) or a legal adult (someone who can consent to sex), as it may be illegal to have sex with a minor, even if you are one yourself.

Considering the legal ramifications of making such mistakes, you must be fully informed about the consent laws in each state. Here is all the information you need to know about the age of consent in Louisiana.

What is the Age of Consent in Louisiana?

According to the Louisiana Civil Code Title I, Article 29, the legal majority age or the legal age of adulthood is 18. However, the state’s age of consent is 17, according to Louisiana’s laws on “felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile," as stated in R.S.14:80. This means that anyone 17 and above can consent to sex with anyone that is 17 and above.

Can a Juvenile or Minor Be Charged with Felony Carnal Knowledge of Another Juvenile?

According to R.S.14:80, the crime of Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile occurs when the offender is 17 and older and has consensual sexual intercourse with a person 13 years or older. According to the Law, carnal knowledge is referred to as anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse.

However, it adds that the victim and offender must not be a married couple and that the age difference between the victim and the offender must be greater than 2 years.

This means that if a minor has sexual intercourse with someone who is more than 2 years younger than them, they are guilty of Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile.

It means that a 13-year-old can consent to a 14- or 15-year-old and a 15-year-old can consent to a 16- or 17-year-old. It also means that a 16-year-old can be charged with Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile if they have consensual sex with a 13-year-old.

What Are the Implications of Violating the Age of Consent in Louisiana?

If you are caught violating the age of consent in Louisiana, you could face one or more of Louisiana's nine statutory rape charges. According to Section D of R.S. 14:80:

(1) Whoever commits the crime of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years, or both, provided that the defendant shall not be eligible to have his conviction set aside or his prosecution dismissed in accordance with the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893.

Does Louisiana Have Romeo and Juliet Laws?

The Romeo and Juliet Law concerning sexual crimes does not allow the prosecution of (or offers reduced penalties to) 2 minors who consent to sexual acts with each other. The law also allows an exception if one person is underage but still close in age to their consensual sexual partner.

Many states have the Romeo and Juliet Law, and Louisiana is no exception. As we’ve stated previously, for the crime of “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” to be committed between two minors, there has to be at least 2 years age difference. This means that a 14- and 16-year-old will not be prosecuted for felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile if they have consensual sex.

Does The Age of Consent Laws Apply to Homosexuals?

The laws of consent apply to children of all genders, irrespective of the gender of the offender. It is illegal to have sexual relations with a person under 17, irrespective of sexual orientation.

What About Other Sexual Activities Excluding Carnal Knowledge?

Although the law states that carnal knowledge is referred to as anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse, these aren’t the only sexual activities that are illegal with a minor. Louisiana’s laws on “indecent behavior with juveniles” as stated in R.S. 14:81 criminalize carrying out lewd or lascivious actions on, or in the presence of juveniles. Louisiana's laws do not expressly define lewd and lascivious acts, but courts have argued that it includes sexual communications through any means and even sexual touching without penetration.

Marriage Consent in Louisiana

Louisiana’s marriage consent age differs from its age of sexual consent. According to Louisiana’s Children Code Article 1545:

No marriage ceremony shall be performed for a minor under the age of sixteen, whether or not their parents are present

A person aged 16 or 17 can get married but needs the consent of both parents, a tutor, or a legal guardian.

However, a person above the age of 18 is allowed to marry whomever they want without parental consent. Of course, their spouse must also be allowed to marry through age or parental consent.

Legal Assistance

A “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” charge is an extremely serious one, punishable by a prison sentence of up to ten years. If you are facing an indecent behavior charge, you need to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in sexual assault charges.

Contact Us Today

Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.

This information has been provided for informational purposes only, is not intended, and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.

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