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Sex Offenses: Children

The Model Penal Code

The Model Penal Code represents a modest advance in the American definition of sex crimes against children. The Model Penal Code, for example, advocates the tiered system, adopted in some form by nearly every state, in which separate offenses are created for acts committed against children at different ages. Similarly, the Model Penal Code introduces the widely accepted concepts of an age differential between victim and perpetrator and a separate offense for the abuse of a position of authority.

On the other hand, the Model Penal Code is, in many respects, archaic when compared to state laws. For example, the most serious sexual penetration offense in the Model Penal Code applies to children under ten years old, a model adopted by only two states. A clear majority of states set the age for the most serious offense much higher, reflecting a broader view of the age at which children are in need of expanded protection. Further, the Model Penal Code creates a reasonable mistake-of-age defense for acts committed against children as young as ten years old and applies the most serious sexual penetration offense only to girls, deeming sexually penetrative conduct with boys less likely to occur and less significant when it does occur. In these instances, the Model Penal Code does not reflect the policy judgments made by the vast majority of states.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawSex Offenses: Children - Historical Developments, Fundamental Elements Of Modern Statutes, Variable Elements, The Model Penal Code, Relationship To Other Sex Crimes