Indiana is one of the few states that provides for a mistake of fact in their statutory rape laws.
Thus, if someone has a reasonable, good-faith belief the individual they are having sex with is 16 or older, they can avoid criminal liability.
Moreover, the penalty ranges of crimes like child molest and sexual misconduct of a minor significantly increase based on the Defendant’s age and the the alleged victim.
For example, crimes involving victims between the ages of 14-16 aren’t nearly as severe as crimes against those 13 and below.
One or more of these charges may be used to prosecute violations of the Indiana Age of Consent, as statutory rape or the Indiana equivalent of that charge.(c) It is a defense that the accused person reasonably believed that the child was sixteen (16) years of age or older at the time of the conduct. (d) Subsections (b) and (c) do not apply to a bona fide school, museum, or public library that qualifies for certain property tax exemptions under IC 6-1.1-10, or to an employee of such a school, museum, or public library acting within the scope of the employee’s employment when the possession of the listed materials are for legitimate scientific or educational purposes. Furthermore, crimes of defendants between 18 and 21 are typically less harsh than when the defendant is over the age of 21. While the age of consent in Indiana is 16, this rule allows 14 and 15 year old juveniles to partake in consensual sexual activity with peers so long as that sexual partner is no more than 4 years older than them.But, have you ever heard of the Romeo and Juliet defense in Indiana? In fact, when most people hear of it, they think it’s a joke. This law was created to protect those that had been in a dating relationship prior to engaging in sexual conduct, and by the nature of timing, became an age where the sexual conduct would be illegal if it were to continue.