The crime of statutory rape is also commonly referred to as "unlawful sex with a minor"..as "unlawful sexual intercourse." Statutory rape is a crime regardless of whether the sex was consensual..even initiated by the minor (the supposed "victim" of the crime).The reality is that we live in a world where teenagers are sexually active...which means that the crime of statutory rape occurs every day, and that countless otherwise law-abiding people find themselves being prosecuted.Therefore, each state has its own laws setting the age at which an individual reaches legal capacity, as well as the ages at which an individual may undertake certain legal actions .California's legal ages laws, for instance, establish that an individual reaches the "age of majority,” or the age at which an individual is legally considered an adult, when he or she reaches 18 years of age.
People certainly mature at different ages, but states must draw the line somewhere.
The laws also state that children must generally be 14 years of age or older in order to be eligible for emancipation (where a minor is no longer legally under the care of his or her parents).
When it comes to having the capacity to undertake certain legal actions, California law allows a minor to sue to enforce his or her rights -- although a guardian must conduct the actual lawsuit for the minor.
Requirements for parental consent (and the presence of a parent when obtaining a license) may be waived if the parent has abandoned the family, is out of the country, or no longer living.
Even in states where there are statutory limits on how old individuals must be to get married (with parental consent), exceptions are made in certain situations -- including pregnancy or the presence of a child.