Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Statutory Rape Definition:

A statutory definition of rape which allows for conviction regardless of the consent, such as with a minor.

Related Terms: Rape

The common law definition of rape has not proven adequate to reflect modern values. It is limited to sex without consent and with a woman, and only where the victim is not the wife of the rapist.

To quote from the 1857 edition of Russell on Crimes:

"Rape has been defined to be the unlawful and carnal knowledge of a woman, by force and against her will."

Many states have enacted laws which include under the charge of rape, sex with a minor even if done with the minor’s consent, sex without consent regardless of whether the victim is male or female, and sex without consent regardless of the matrimonial bond between victim and rapist.

Because it is a statute which vacates the effect of consent of minors, for example, which would otherwise be a defense at common law, these offences are distinguished from the common law offence by the term statutory rape.


  • Russell, W. M. O., Russell on Crimes: A Treatise on Crimes and Misdemeanors (Philadelphia: T& JW Johnson & Co., Law Booksellers and Publishers, 1987).

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