This report focuses on laws that criminalize voluntary sexual acts involving a minor that would be legal if not for the age of one or more of the participants. The report does not include laws where the legality of the sexual acts is dependent on the relationship of the participants (e.g., incest, sex between teachers and students or doctors and patients). In addition, the summaries do not include laws that criminalize specific sexual behavior (e.g., sodomy, bestiality) or deal primarily with prostitution, sexual exploitation, or enticement.
The laws referenced in this report generally come from two areas of states’ statutes.
- The descriptions of the criminal sexual acts are based on information from states’ criminal or penal codes.
- Information on states’ reporting requirements is usually found in the section of the code dealing with juveniles, children and families, domestic relationships, or social services.
The majority of the reporting requirements deal primarily with child abuse. Although these laws also address neglect, child maltreatment, and non-sexual abuse, this report focuses only on those sections of the laws addressing sexual abuse. In addition, the report indicates where the applicability of states’ reporting requirements is limited based on the relationship between the victim and defendant (e.g., cases where the defendant is a person responsible for the care of the victim).