Kansas Attorney Jerry Merrill Discusses Sex Offense Scenarios

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Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill, of the Merrill Law Firm, examines the top two scenarios in which sex offenses typically arise.

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States decide their own age of consent – they range from 16-18. States also determine whether crimes can be charged when two people of similar ages have sex and one is under the age of consent.

“Sex offenses typically arise in two scenarios,” said attorney Jerry Merrill, of the Merrill Law Firm, who devotes his practice exclusively to defending individuals accused of crimes.

No. 1: Force, fear, or a person unable to consent due to unconsciousness or intoxication. “These are the crimes most people think of when they think of sexual assaults/rapes,” noted Merrill.

No. 2: Sexual relations where at least one participant is under the legal age of consent, even though both participants engage in the sexual relations willingly. A crime occurs because the law says someone under a certain age cannot legally consent, even though their actual consent (willingness to participate) was manifested through words and actions.”

“States decide their own age of consent – they range from 16-18,” noted Merrill. “States also determine whether crimes can be charged when two people of similar ages have sex and one is under the age of consent. For example, Missouri law allows two individuals to have sex even though one is under the age of consent (but at least 14) as long as the older person is under 21. However, Kansas has no such exception, and a 16-year-old may be charged with a sex offense (which may require sex offender registration) if they have sex with a 15-year-old because the age of consent in Kansas is 16.”

As a practical matter, these situations are seldom charged because prosecutors exercise discretion in charging decisions, but the law allows for such situations to be charged as serious felonies. In states with laws such as Kansas, the results can be absurd.

“If the age of consent is 16 and a 15-year-old has consensual sex with a 16-year-old, the 16-year-old is committing a sex crime, where the 15-year-old is not,” concluded Merrill. “When two 15-year-olds have sexual relations they are both committing sex crimes. The laws are written broadly enough to often encompass sexual touching along with sexual intercourse.”

About Jerry Merrill, Merrill Law Firm
Jerry Merrill is a solo practitioner, and his clients receive individualized attention and hands-on guidance in every aspect of their criminal defense. Practice areas of the Merrill Law Firm include criminal defense, domestic violence, juvenile law, DUI/DWI and serious felonies. For more information, please call (913) 381-2085, or visit http://www.merrillfirm.com. The law office is located at 7211 W. 98th Terrace, Suite 140, Overland Park, KS 66212.

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