The Age Of Consent: Differences In State And Federal Law
Different Ages Of Consent From State To State
At the federal level, the age of consent to view any visual depiction is 18, meaning a person must be at least 18 years old to lawfully consent to visual depictions of a sexual nature. However, in Kansas, the age of consent to engage in sexual activity is 16. Our legislature presumes that people are old and mature enough to decide whether they want to voluntarily engage in sexual activity by this point in their lives.
A 16-year-old can lawfully consent to sexual activity with a 60-year-old, for example, but in no state can anyone under the age of eighteen consent to participate in the creation of a visual depiction of that sexual activity. Even though it may be lawful for two 16-year-old juniors in high school to have a sexual relationship in the State of Kansas, it is unlawful for either one of them to make a visual depiction of that activity.
By contrast, in Missouri, the age of consent to sexual activity is 17 years. That means if a 17-year-old high school senior takes his 16-year-old girlfriend to homecoming and they engage in sexual activity afterward, it may or may not be a crime, depending on which side of the state line the activity occurred.
Minors And Child Pornography Charges
Earlier on, when smartphones with high-quality cameras and the ability to share pictures were a bit more in their infancy than now, cases where a prosecutor went after a 15-year-old high school student for having a picture of his girlfriend topless on his phone weren’t unheard of. There was enough public outcry against these sorts of prosecutions, so few prosecutors will pursue those charges anymore.
Infrequent as it may be, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen altogether. I myself have received calls from counties in Kansas where that exact charge had not only been filed but was being aggressively pursued. The primary concern these prosecutors likely have is that once a file of this nature has been transmitted, whether a video or picture, anyone who has it can do anything with it. Even if created with consent, if it falls into the wrong hands, it can be promulgated, traded, and sold as child pornography. The concern is understandable when you think of it with this as a possibility.
For more information on a successful defense of federal child pornography charges, click here.
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