Ages of Consent: mnemonic ditty to remember legal age for sex in each state

Have a hard time remembering the age of consent laws in each state? Uncle Merv put together this handy mnemonic ditty that perfectly combines learning and queasy discomfort.

(Thanks Allan!)


    1. That’s why I linked to the sourced stats in the intro.

      Anyone relying on legal info from a comedian in a “creepy uncle” costume singing on YouTube deserves their fate, IMHO.

    2. He’s counting the age of consent for close-in-age exemptions, not the general age of consent. Also,’s flat-out wrong on some of them. (For example, the age of consent at the Vatican is 14 (or 13 with a 3-year close-in-age exception), not 12. It was 12 in 1929 when it was regularized with Italy’s. The Vatican’s criminal law mirrored Italy’s from then until recently. [It’s no longer automatic but occurs after review.])

    3. I find it being subtly wrong in the wrong direction adds to the humor value.

      (As Andrea notes, if you believe creepy youtube guy over your lawyer, you’ll get what you deserve…)

  1. There is no state in the US where the age of consent is less than 16. Those states listed as 14 and 15 have laws that specify a lesser sentence once a child turns 14, but it is still very much illegal. Especially if you are over 18.

  2. This isn’t terribly helpful. Forgetting for a moment it’s sorta creepy and wrong, the fact remains it’s also Federally illegal to travel to another state or country for sex with a minor, even if the other state/country’s law says it’s okay at the age. My understanding is this is so to make local laws relevant, otherwise it’s Weekend in Mexico with your new chatroom novia. Also, did I mention creepy?

    1. @lolbrandon: I’m committing the heinous crime of commenting from memory without looking it up, but I believe the phrase is actually “transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes,” i.e. it’s not illegal to drive yourself from California to Nevada to visit your 17-year-old inamorata, but it WOULD be illegal to take your underage lover from California to Nevada to take advantage of the lower age of consent.
      This is not a situation I’ve ever had to think much about, but I used to know a joke about “transporting mynahs over sedate lions for immortal porpoises…”

  3. The legal prostitution song would be a lot shorter, but I suspect the bestiality song would be more entertaining.

  4. I’d say that, as far as New York goes, it is 15, but “some restrictions may apply”, as said in the song.

    Here are the age of consent rules, as I understand them (based on NYS Penal Code, Section 130):

    (130.05(3)(1)) A person under 17 is incapable of consent.

    (130.20) Sex with someone without their consent is sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor.

    However, when it comes to more serious offenses are, the above definition is either ignored or explicitly overridden.

    (130.25) If you are at least 21, and your partner is under 17, it’s rape in the 3rd degree. Therefore it isn’t rape in 3rd degree if you are under 21, even if your partner is under 17.

    (130.30) If you are at least 18, and your partner is less than 15, it’s rape in the 2nd degree. There is an affirmative defense if your partner is less than 4 years younger than you. Therefore, it isn’t 2nd degree rape if your partner is 15 or more, or if your are under 18.

    So far, someone who is 20 can have sex with a 15 year old and only be guilty of misdemeanor sexual misconduct.

    This is basically the “restrictions may apply” for the AoC of 15 in NY.

    I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, there are other parts to the definitions which may be pertinent to your situation, yadda yadda yadda don’t sue me.

  5. I got some yuks from this video, that’s all I was banking on.

    And now I find that my fellow boingboingers are intimately familiar with age of consent laws.

    Now THAT’s creepy.

  6. And here innocent little West Coast me assumed it was 18 everywhere. Creeparific.

    Ist deine Tochter achtzehn bitte?

    Ugh…let’s go somewhere less creepy for dinner.

  7. Until fairly recently, it was 14 in Canada. By the definition of this video, it still is. They changed the age to 16 in general, but 14 and 15 can consent with up to 5 years difference (19 and 20). 12 and 13 can also consent with up to 2 years difference (14 and 15).

    Why is it creepy to know this? When you’re in your late teens, it’s smart to know the age of consent laws. Especially if you’re 18 or 19 and in a place without a close in age exemption.

  8. Youth…bah!
    Experience counts.
    “There’s no whore like an old whore”, to quote a famous Canadian politician who became a grandfather today.
    Not that I particularly care for jaded and calloused whores: but IMHO he has gotten the principle right.

  9. Oh good; now I know at what age to start shopping for a shotgun…

    Close-in-age exemptions make sense to me, as long as it’s consentual. Though this does re-emphasize the need to give kids at least the basic education fairly young, since — realistically — they may start playing before an adult (especially an adult with standard American hang-ups about sex) would want to think about them doing so.

    I’m just bemused by the fact that age of consent is sometimes so far below drinking age. In some ways I think that’s entirely reasonable and realistic, but perhaps more realistic than I would have expected anyone to be. Of course the reasons behind the number may have nothing to do with reasonable or realistic assumptions.

    Interesting that the lowest number, 14, just barely fits the “at least half-your-age-plus-seven years old” rule if both individuals are 14.

  10. Do the lyrics of the ditty ad any info?

    I couldn’t tell.

    Otherwise, I’d be fine with a hard copy, ‘cept that there’s errors as Xopher sites in the first comment.

  11. What’s with the ‘creepy’?

    I think it would be awful to inadvertently have sex that could get you arrested and labeled as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

    I mean, it’s age of consent, right? Certainly Bonigers can get behind consensual sex?

  12. I understand the reasons, but it’s too bad age-based laws have to exist at all, as everyone matures at a different rate. Take driving for example… a person isn’t magically mature enough to drive the day they turn 16. Or incapable once they hit 80. In Utopia, a test measuring an individuals maturity (or incompetence, or skills) would seem preferable.

    1. it’s too bad age-based laws have to exist at alla test measuring an individuals maturity (or incompetence, or skills) would seem preferable.

      My mind nearly boggled out of it’s housing imagining this one.

      “OK, class quiet down. Now, after this lesson you were due to have Miss Lithebody for your Sexual Proficiency exams, but she is ill today, so the headmistress has stepped in. Now, no groaning at the back there. Mrs Yarghmyeyes has over 70 years experience of sexual technique evaluation and I’m sure you can all meet her demanding standards.”

      alternatively, of course: pedobear.jpg

      1. My mind nearly boggled out of it’s housing imagining this one.

        I believe “skills” was meant to refer to driving skills in the excerpted text, and the maturity that everyone is worried about in the context of AOC legislation is mostly psychological (as it lags behind reaching ‘mature enough physicially’ in basically all cases)

        A 14 year old may be physically capable of having sex, but their brains aren’t up to adult standards. The big problem is that puberty can extend right up to your early twenties, and the cognitive development associated with it often does, combined with everyone being on a different schedule for development.

        The belt-and-suspenders approach is to set AOC to something like 25, just to be sure everyone’s mature enough, but of course that would criminalize a staggering proportion of the population and might even cause actual rioting in protest.

        1. “A 14 year old may be physically capable of having sex, but their brains aren’t up to adult standards. ”

          Then Americans should stop having sex.

  13. What happens if you are a married couple from some other place, eg the UK or even another state?

    For instance, to go with a high profile example, Alan Clark (military historian, Tory politician in Thatcher’s government and philandering diarist) was 30 and Jane was 16 at their wedding (a marriage that lasted until his death 40+ years later, despite the philandering – here she is interviewed by Lyn “An Education” Barber).

    So with New York’s “(130.25) If you are at least 21, and your partner is under 17, it’s rape in the 3rd degree” rule – would they (or he anyway) have been in some trouble if they had visited New York and that rule applied?

    1. At least in Kansas, Marriage is a defense for age related issues.

      21-3503. Indecent liberties with a child.
      (a) Indecent liberties with a child is engaging in any of the following acts with a child who is 14 or more years of age but less than 16 years of age:

      (b) It shall be a defense to a prosecution of indecent liberties with a child as described in subsection (a)(1) that the child was married to the accused at the time of the offense. (c) Indecent liberties with a child is a severity level 5, person felony.

    2. I would imagine that that situation wouldn’t be much (if any) different from gay or polygamous marriages: if the state/country you’re visiting doesn’t allow such marriages, that government won’t recognize it, but they probably won’t arrest the involved parties either.

  14. Funny how the people who are seeing the laws in this video are correcting them from the Point of View of Creepy Uncle Merv’s point of view and NOT from the POV of the average 17 year old which is the only legitimate use this video should have.

  15. I grew up in Colorado; the law was at the time written that a girl could give consent “in her sixteenth year.” Which begins on her fifteenth birthday (do the counting in your head).

    I remember this clearly because it kept me out of jail when I was 17. Pissed off father, and all that. We still keep in touch after–holy crap! 40 years.

  16. Interesting: the word creepy appears repeatedly in these comments. And yet, I would guess the following is true: many of those commenters do NOT think that it is wrong for adults of the age of majority to have sex; and it is not wrong for consenting adults to have sex regardless of their gender/race/age, etc. So what’s creepy? Please note that I’m not saying that this isn’t creepy, I’m asking why some readers have this intuition…

  17. Everyone wants to make corrections so I’ll put mine in, too: The way he pronounces Arkansas violates the Arkansas statute about the proper way to pronounce the name of that state.

    Is it possible that the song is meant to be silly and not to be taken as legal advice?

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