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What are NC’s statutory rape laws?

Most people are aware that potential sex partners need to be a certain age. Failure to verify age prior to any sort of sexual contact, including “sexting” or other sexual activities that do not require actual touching, can result in the courts charging you with statutory rape.

However, the age of consent changes depending on where you are. According to, the age of consent in the state of North Carolina is 16 years old.

What does this mean?

This means that individuals who are 15 years old or younger are not able to legally consent to sexual activity of any kind. The only real exception to this is if an individual under the age of 15 marries their sexual partner. Then the spouse is exempt from the age of consent rule.

Are there any other exceptions?

In addition to the marriage exemption, North Carolina has a close in age exemption. These are often known as “Romeo and Juliet” laws, and intend to prevent younger individuals who are close in age from falling afoul of statutory rape laws.

The Romeo and Juliet law in North Carolina is loosely worded. Essentially, if a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old engage in sexual activity, it is highly unlikely that the courts will prosecute either due to the existence of the exemption. If it is a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old, though, this is less likely.

Additionally, if an individual works for a K-12 education system in any capacity, they may not engage in any sexual activity with any student, no matter how old the student is. The only exception to this rule is if the couple marries.