Many people believe that the law regarding sexual assault and other sex crimes is very clear; the phrase “no means no” is often repeated, implying that if one party does not consent to any kind of sexual activity, then forcing that individual to engage in said activity would be illegal. While this is certainly true, it is not always that simple, because in some instances, “yes” can still be illegal.

When most people think of rape or sexual assault, they imagine one person, usually a male, forcing himself onto a victim and engaging in unwanted sexual contact with that person. This has led to a cultural expectation that this is the only type of sexual contact that constitutes rape, but it should be noted that sometimes completely consensual sex can still be considered illegal depending on the age of the person or persons involved.

You may have heard of the phrase statutory rape, but if you have not, it is in your best interests to familiarize yourself with it quickly. It refers to an instance in which consensual sex that would otherwise be completely legal is immediately made illegal simply because at least one party involved is too young to legally give consent. Depending on the age of consent in a state, a person may be committing rape without even realizing it.

The age of consent in Louisiana is 17. If you are unsure of whether or not a person is above the age of consent, it is recommended that you avoid sexual contact. However, if you had good reason to believe or were led to believe that the person was of age, you can use that to defend yourself if you are accused of statutory rape. Individuals who are facing statutory rape charges are encouraged to meet with an attorney as soon as possible to defend themselves from being wrongfully convicted.