I'm 17 years old and dating a 15-year-old. Is it a crime? —Avvo Legal Answers I'm 17 years old and dating a 15-year-old. —Avvo Legal Answers
No, it is not a crime to be in a relationship with someone who is under 18 years old. It's also not a crime for an adult to be in a relationship with someone who is under 16 years old as long as the other party approves of the relationship. In most states, there are no age restrictions on who can marry someone. However, some states do have minimum age requirements for marriage. The minimum age requirement to marry in all U.S. states and the District of Columbia is 16 years old.
The legality of relationships between adults and teenagers depends on the specific facts of each case. Courts tend to focus on three main factors in determining whether a person has committed a crime by engaging in underage dating: whether the age difference between the partner is significant; whether there is any evidence of coercion or intimidation; and whether the younger partner appears to understand the consequences of their actions.
For example, if a young teenager goes to school with someone he or she likes and follows them home, this might cause a teacher or parent to question why they're friends.
At roughly 14, that is probably the youngest a 16-year-old should date, MAYBE 13 if they are extremely mature, but the line tends to blur at that point. The older you are, the less likely it is that a young person will be able to handle your maturity level.
The younger you are, the more likely it is that a young person will be able to handle your maturity level. There's no right or wrong here, it just depends on how much control you want to have over how old your partner feels like they have to be.
The only real rule here is that you shouldn't date anyone under 18 years old unless their family knows you well and trusts you not to take advantage of them. Even then, I wouldn't recommend it as there are many other options available to you if they don't work out.
Keep in mind that this isn't a sentence you get thrown in jail for, so if you're looking for something to be afraid of then think again. This doesn't mean you have to give up all hope of having a normal life though; it just means you need to be aware of the fact that you could be called "child bride" or "child groom".
Women in their twenties: