Sexual Activity: Minors and Consent

This page explains the law about when a minor (someone under 18) can and can’t consent to sexual activity.

Consent to sex

There is no law that specifies what age you have to be to have sex; however, criminal law determines when a person can be charged with a crime for having sexual contact with a minor.

It is against the law to:

  1. Have sex or sexual contact with anyone under the age of 13.

    People age 12 or under cannot agree to have sex. Even when a person 12 or under says he or she agrees to have sex, the person he or she agrees to have sex with can be charged with a crime.
  2. To force or pressure someone who is 13 to 17 (or to force or pressure someone of any age) to have sex.
  3. Have sex with someone who is 13 to 16 if the person is at least 18 years old and four or more years older than the person who is 13-16.

    The term “statutory rape” applies to people ages 13-16. For example, if you are 15, it would be against the law for someone who is 20 to have sex with you. But if you are 17 it would not be against the law for someone who is 21 to have sex with you (unless that person is a school employee or volunteer who knows you are a student at the school where they work or volunteer – see below).
  4. For a school employee or school volunteer to have sex with a student.
    People age 13-17 cannot agree to have sex with a person who is a school employee who is age 18 or over and is four or more years older than they are when the school employee knows that the person age 13-17 is a student at the school where they are employed.

I am under age 18. Are there times when my sexual activities can be reported to the police or child protective services?
Yes. There are situations where it is against the law to have sexual contact with a minor. There are some cases where your parents, teacher, doctor, school principal, nurse, etc. will need to report your sexual activities to the authorities in order to protect you. This is the case if:

  • You are under 13 and are sexually active;
  • You are having sex with someone who is 18 years old and is at least 4 years older than you (this is sometimes called statutory rape);
  • You are having sex with someone in a position of authority, such as someone who works at your school, a coach, a babysitter, etc.

Is it statutory rape if I am 16 and my girlfriend is 19?
No. Statutory rape happens when your boyfriend or girlfriend is at least 18 years old AND is four (4) years older than you. Therefore, if you are 16 and your girlfriend is 19, you are only 3 years apart and it is not statutory rape.
If you want to know more about your right to consent to abortion, taking the pill, STD testing, etc., refer to the section on this website on Health Care.

Resources for more information about minors and consent to sex:

Albuquerque Rape Crisis Center
24-hour hotline 505-266-7711
Toll free 888-811-8282

Domestic Violence Helpline
505-243-4300
Toll free: 1-877-974-3400

National Domestic Violence Hotline
Toll free 800-799-7233

AGORA Crisis Center Hotline
505-277-3013

CYFD Child Abuse Hotline
800-797-3260

DISCLAIMER: This website is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website shall be construed as legal advice nor does the information provided constitute the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. We take no responsibility for errors.