Love knows no bounds, but it can be impacted by the law. Like every other state, Ohio regulates what kind of conduct people can engage in with others depending on the ages of the people involved. While dating a minor may not necessarily be illegal, certain activities are prohibited in Ohio.
While there is no specific definition of “dating” in Ohio, the law generally prohibits sexual conduct between adults and those minors not of the age of consent. If the dating involves no sexual conduct between the adult and the minor, the conduct is generally not prohibited.
Age of Consent
In every state, the age at which a minor can knowingly grant consent to sexual contact is detailed in statutes. In Ohio, the “age of consent” is generally 16, meaning anyone 16 or older can grant consent to sexual activity with a person of any age.
While the Ohio statute states the age of consent is 16, that only applies in situations where the couple is not married. If a married couple engages in sexual conduct, and one of the spouses is not 16, that is generally allowed and not prosecutable. However, the couple must have a legally recognized marriage.
Close in Age
Ohio law also allows a “close in age” exception to the age of consent. If one of the parties is older than 13 but younger than 16, and the other is not yet 18, the conduct is considered “reckless” and not punishable as a felony, though misdemeanor charges are possible.
Ohio law categorizes illegal sexual contact between adults and minors depending on two factors: the age difference and prior history. Generally, unlawful sexual contact with a minor is a fourth-degree felony. However, if the offender is 10 or more years older than the minor, the crime is charged as a third-degree felony. If the parties are less than four years apart, the crime is charged as a first degree misdemeanor.