What Does the Law Say About Underage Sex in the UK and What Is The Age Of Consent In England?

Underage sex with a minor is a topic that has dominated headlines for decades. But what is the actual law surrounding the age of consent in England?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the legal implications of engaging in underage sex with a minor, as well as the consequences of sexual abuse.

What Is The Legal Age Of Consent In The UK?

In the UK, the legal age to have sex with consent is 16. The law is there to protect children and is not there to prosecute two people under the age of 16 who engage in mutually consensual sexual activity. However, in the interests of protecting younger children, anyone aged under 13 is not able to legally give consent, even if proof of the consent is shown in court.

What Does The Law Say About Sexting?

In recent years, ‘sexting’ has become more and more popular. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to sending text messages, or any other form of communication, of a sexual nature. This could be anything from sending an innuendo-filled message to distributing indecent images or video. It is illegal to engage in sexting, or any other sexual-fuelled communication, with anyone who is under the age of 18.

Persons In A Position Of Trust

The age of consent may be 16, but if you’re in a position of trust this is raised to 18. A person in a position of trust refers to anyone who is supposed to be looking after the said young person, this includes teachers, doctors, or care workers.

What Are The Penalties For Having Underage Sex With A Minor?

Legally, having sex with someone under the age of 16 (18 in some circumstances, as mentioned above) is seen as sexual assault, and is taken very seriously by the courts. If you’re over the age of 16 and have sex with a minor, the punishment depends on a variety of different factors.

In the UK, the sentence of underage rape carries a maximum of life imprisonment. If the victim is aged 13-15, and the sex was mutually consensual, you could be facing a prison sentence of up to two years. If the victim is under 13 years of age, you could be facing a sentence of life imprisonment.

What Is The Age Of Criminal Responsibility In The UK?

In some rare cases, sexual assault has been committed by a young child. The age of criminal responsibility in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is 10. This means that from this age and onwards, a child is considered capable of committing a crime and standing trial. Children under this age may be given a local child curfew or placed under a child safety order.

In Scotland, the law is different. The age of criminal responsibility is 8 years of age, but a child cannot be prosecuted until they are aged 12 or older.

What To Do If You’ve Been Accused Of Having Underage Sex With A Minor

If you’ve been accused of having underage sex with a minor, even if you believe you’re innocent, it’s vital that you seek immediate advice from an expert sexual offense solicitor who has valuable experience in this field.

At DPP Law, we offer non-judgemental, honest advice on your next steps. Our dedicated legal team has decades of experience in handling complex cases like this and will work around the clock to secure the best possible results for our clients.

If you’d like to chat with a member of our team about how to move forward with your case then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Our criminal defence solicitors can defend you if you have been accused of any of the below criminal offences: