Often laws differ from state to state, and even from county to county, as each local jurisdiction passes laws that it feels are necessary to protect its citizens.

TheForensicnurse.com has started compiling a list of these various laws to help victims, law enforcement, forensic nurses, and any one else who is interested with a resource guide of laws that affected them on various categories like:

Federal Laws

{Chapter 117, 18 U.S.C. 2422(b)} forbids the use of the United States Postal Service or other interstate or foreign means of communication, such as telephone calls or use of the internet, to persuade or entice a minor (defined as under 18 throughout chapter) to be involved in a criminal sexual act. The act has to be illegal under state or federal law to be charged with a crime under 2422(b), and can even be applied to situations where both parties reside within the same state but use an instant messenger program whose servers are located in another state.[19]

{Chapter 117, 18 U.S.C. 2423(a)} forbids transporting a minor (defined as under 18) in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent of engaging in criminal sexual acts in which a person can be charged. This subsection is ambiguous on its face, and only seems to apply when the minor is transported across state or international lines to a place where the conduct is already illegal to begin with. The United States Department of Justice seems to agree with this interpretation.

{Chapter 117, 18 U.S.C. 2423(b)} forbids traveling in interstate or foreign commerce to engage in "illicit sexual conduct" with a minor. 2423(f) refers to Chapter 109A as its bright line for defining "illicit sexual conduct", as far as non-commercial sexual activity is concerned. For the purposes of age of consent, the only provision applicable is {Chapter 109A, 18 U.S.C. 2243(a)}. 2243(a) refers to situations where such younger person is under the age of 16 years, has attained 12 years of age, and the older person is more than 4 years older than the 12-to-15-year-old (persons under 12 are handled under 18 U.S.C. 2241(c) under aggravated sexual abuse). So, the age is 12 years if one is within 4 years of the 12-to-15-year-old's age, 16 under all other circumstances. This most likely reflects Congressional intent to not unduly interfere with a state's age of consent law, which would have been the case if the age was set to 18 under all circumstances. This law is also extraterritorial in nature to U.S. Citizens and Residents who travel outside of the United States.

Although legislation tends to reflect general societal attitudes regarding male versus female ages of consent, Richard Posner notes in his Guide to America's Sex Laws;

"The U.S. Supreme Court has held that stricter rules for males do not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution, on the theory that men lack the disincentives (associated with pregnancy) that women have, to engage in sexual activity, and the law may thus provide men with those disincentives in the form of criminal sanctions."[20]

The Assimilative Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 13) incorporates local state criminal law when on federal reservations such as Bureau of Land Management property, military posts and shipyards, national parks, national forests, inter alia. Consequently, if the relevant state's age of consent is higher than the federal age of consent, the higher age applies.

Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (10 U.S.C. § 920) - to which essentially only members of the United States Armed Services and enemy prisoners of war are subject - defines the age of consent as sixteen years in subsection, but requires evidence of force or coersion concerning victims between the ages of twelve and sixteen years. The victim's age being under sixteen years is also an aggravating factor invoking harsher punishment under both Articles 120 and 125 (Sodomy, 10 U.S.C. § 925). Within the United States, United States servicemembers are further subject to the local state law both when off-post. The local state law is incorporated, for the most part, into federal law when on-post per the Assimilative Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 13). Depending upon the relevant status of forces agreement, United States servicemembers are also subject to the local criminal laws of the host nation for acts committed off-post.

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