The general age of consent in Connecticut is 16. This applies in most normal relationships.
However, if any of the following apply, then the age of consent becomes 18:
- Where one person is a guardian, or responsible for the general supervision, of the other. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(a)(4).
- Where one person is an athletic coach or an intensive instructor (e.g. piano teacher) outside of a school setting, and the other is being coached or instructed. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(9)(B).
- Where one person's professional, legal, occupational or volunteer status gives him/her a role of supervision, power, or authority, over the other's participation in a program or activity, and the older person is at least 20-years-old. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(a)(4).
Age of consent is irrelevant in the following; as even consensual adult sexual activity is criminalized in these relationships:
- Where one person is in custody or in a hospital, and the other has supervisory or disciplinary power. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(a)(5).
- Where the patient (or former patient) is emotionally dependent on the psychotherapist, or sexual intercourse occurs during a psychotherapy session. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(a)(6).
- Where one person is a school employee (of the board of education, by extension excluding post-secondary schools) and the other a student. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(a)(8).
- Where one person is an athletic coach or an intensive instructor (e.g. piano teacher) in a secondary (high school) setting and the other a student. See C.G.S. § 53a-71(9)(A).
Connecticut recognizes that minors who are at least 13 can consent to sexual activity if (and only if) there is less than a 3-year age difference. For example:
- A 13-year-old can consent to any 15-year-old.
- A 15-year-old can consent to any 17-year-old.
- A 15-year-old born on January 1st can consent to a 18-year-old born on February 1st. This is just under a 3-year age difference.
- A 15-year-old born on February 1st cannot consent to an 18-year-old born on January 1st. This is just over, and illegal.
However consensual, sexual intercourse within the 3-year age difference by a minor 13- through 17-years-old may, upon a complaint, lead the Connecticut Superior Court to a "family with service needs" finding. See C.G.S. § 46b-120(7)(E). Such a finding would allow the Court to issue orders as it finds necessary in dealing with the matter.
Consensual sexual intercourse over the 3-year age difference (where the minor is 13- to 15-years-old) would subject the older party to a charge of Sexual Assault, 2nd Degree, in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-71(a)(1). Any juvenile offender 14-years-old or older has the case automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court by operation of law, and thus stands before the court to be tried as an adult. See C.G.S. § 46b-127(a). A guilty verdict would result in conviction of a Class B felony sex offense, with a mandatory minimum of 9 months and maximum 20 years imprisonment. It would not matter if the older person did not know of the age difference, or if the younger person lied about age. However, if the offender is 17-years-old or younger, has a clean record, and such sexual activity was consensual, Youthful Offender status (a pre-trial diversionary program that seals the court record and results in a dismissal of charges) may be granted. See C.G.S. § 54-76b to o.
Connecticut also recognizes that minors under 13 are released from criminal liability as to consensual sexual activity if (and only if) there is less than a 2-year age difference. For example:
- A 12-year-old can consent to any 13-year old.
- A 12-year-old cannot consent to any 14-year-old.
Consensual (between minors) sexual intercourse over the 2-year age difference (where the minor is under 13-years-old) would subject the older minor to a charge of Sexual Assault, 1st Degree, in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-70(a)(2). A guilty verdict would result in conviction of a Class A felony sex offense, with a mandatory minimum of 5-10 years and maximum 25 years imprisonment. Any juvenile offender 14-years-old or older has the case automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court by operation of law, and thus stands before the court to be tried as an adult. However, the offender would have the same chance to apply for Youthful Offender status (see Sexual Assault, 2nd Degree above) provided the criteria are met.
A juvenile offender 13-years-old and younger would be charged as a "serious juvenile offender" under C.G.S. § 46b-120(12)(A). Because the charge is a sex offense, the juvenile prosecutor can request that the proceeding designated a "serious sexual offender prosecution". See C.G.S. § 46b-133d(b)-(f). Unless the juvenile waives the right to a trial by jury, the case proceeds to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court, where the juvenile must face trial as an adult. If the juvenile agrees to the waiver, the case will proceed through the juvenile system with a bench trial.
Links to Statutes Cited (in numerical order)
- C.G.S. § 46b-120
- C.G.S. § 46b-127
- C.G.S. § 46b-133d
- C.G.S. § 53a-70
- C.G.S. § 53a-71
- C.G.S. § 54-76b to o
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