North Carolina Legal Age Of Consent (Legal Age for Consensual Sex)
What is the 2023 Age of Consent in North Carolina?
The North Carolina Legal Age of Consent for sexual contact is 16 years old.
There are a total of 31 states have set their age of consent at 16, the lowest age of consent in any state.
Any sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age is prohibited, with a close-in-age exemption if the defendant is less than 3 years older than the victim. Defendants between three and six years older then the person are guilty of a reduced charge (class C felony), and older perpetrators are charged with a class B1 felony.
North Carolina Close-In-Age Exemption
North Carolina has a close-in-age exemption, also known as a "Romeo and Juliet law", to the legal age of consent. This provision allows partners who are close in age, or both under the North Carolina age of consent, to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution under North Carolina age of consent regulations. For more information, read about close-in-age exemptions.
What is the Age of Consent?
The Age of Consent is the age at which a person is deemed by North Carolina law to be capable of consenting to, and engaging in, sexual acts. Anyone who engages in sexual activity of any type with a partner under the applicable Age of Consent is breaking the law and can be charged with crimes ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony (statutory rape) depending on the jurisdiction in which they are prosecuted. North Carolina's specific laws on the Age of Consent can be found above.
What happens if I violate the North Carolina Age of Consent?
If you engage in sexual activity with a minor who is under the North Carolina Age of Consent of 18, you can be prosecuted under North Carolina sexual abuse laws and charged with crimes ranging from sexual assault or statutory rape to first degree rape, regardless of whether or not the sexual acts were consensual. Depending on the charges, conviction can carry penalties ranging from one to fifty years in prison and registration as a sex offender .
Does the North Carolina Age of Consent apply to explicit pictures or videos?
It is important to note that North Carolina's Age of Consent does not apply to "sexting", or transmission of explicit photos or video. Producing or receiving explicit photos of minors (any person under age 18) is illegal in North Carolina, and all other states, under child pornography laws.
Because the North Carolina Age of Consent is 16 years old, while minors between the ages of 16 and 18 may be allowed to consent to sexual intercourse, sharing of explicit images - even with someone else under age 18 - may be subject to criminal prosecution.
Possession of explicit images of an underage person is also illegal under Federal law, and while minors are not typically prosecuted for possession, adults are frequently prosecuted for producing, possessing, receiving, or distributing underage pornography.
What happens if I travel to a state where the Age of Consent is lower?
In most states, the travel or transportation of a minor over state lines with the intention of engaging in sexual activity is in itself a severe misdemeanor or felony. As a result, it is generally not possible to evade a state's age of consent rules by travelling to a different state.
Map of Ages of Consent by State
16 Years Old
17 Years Old
18 Years Old
Need more information? Find data on the age of consent in other states.