If I’m 19 years old and I’m dating a girl who is 16, is it legal for me to have sex with her?

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If I’m 19 years old and I’m dating a girl who is 16, is it legal for me to have sex with her?

By sex I mean sexual penetration. Is this legal under the state of NM? I’ve done a lot of research but different sites say different things about age differential and different ages of consent, etc. Can I legally do this or will I go to jail as a sex offender?

Asked on June 6, 2011 under Criminal Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It appears that in New Mexico, as long as you are not in a position of authority over the girl (e.g. a teacher), that in your situation it would not be illegal. Note that some people do seem to read the relevant provision, which is criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree or criminal sexual penetration of the fourth degree, differently, as not requiring the element of authority; however, even those people seem to agree that it requires that the older party be both over 18 (which you are) and at least four years older than the younger party (which you do not seem to be.) As you note, there is some confusion or disagreement.

You should look at the NM penal code directly yourself to see if you feel this is appropriate and legal. Here are two useful links to get you started:

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-mexico/2006/nmrc/jd_30-9-13-c28f.html

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-mexico/2009/chapter-30/article-9/section-30-9-11/


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