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What is the age of consent in Indiana?

In some cases, two people can have willing, consensual sex, and one of them might still be committing a crime. It’s all about age.

In Indiana, the age of consent is 16. Once someone reaches 16 years of age, the law allows them to make their own decisions about their sexual relations. Their adult partners no longer risk charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. But that doesn’t mean adults with 16-year-old partners are entirely in the clear.

The different ages targeted by Indiana law

Even if your partner is 16 or 17, they’re not legally allowed to do whatever they want. The laws that define Indiana’s sex crimes target several different ages. And you may want to know what they are even if you don’t think they all make sense.

For example:

  • It’s okay for adults to enjoy consensual sex with 16 or 17-year-olds, but they need to be careful about sexting. It’s still illegal for anyone under 18 to share nude photos. It may not even matter if they’re in a sexual relationship.
  • Most charges become far more serious if the victim is under the age of 14 or 12.
  • Several charges become more serious when they’re made against someone who’s already 21 or older.

In other words, the law doesn’t draw a single line between adult and not-adult. In fact, it even offers a defense for some teens who become legal adults while they’re in sexual relationships with underage partners. This “Romeo and Juliet” defense has its limits, but it could allow an 18-year-old boy to continue dating his 15-year-old girlfriend without crossing the law.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the girl’s parents won’t call the police if they’re surprised to find she’s sleeping with a legal adult. But it does mean the young man and his parents will want to understand his legal rights.

Sorting out the tricky cases

Unless you’re familiar with Indiana’s criminal code, you may not always know when you’re stumbling into a legal gray area. Some cases can be tricky. For example, if you’re 20 and receive sexts from a 17-year-old, that could be illegal. Or it might be okay if you’re in a committed, ongoing relationship. But not if you share the photos.

Indiana law is full of clauses that can offer defenses or make things worse. At Kammen & Moudy, we know how important it is to understand exactly which of these provisions may apply. That’s why our attorneys work to get the full picture. We look to understand how relationships may change the nature of the charges, even if those relationships have since ended.

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