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FAQ

Question:
Hi I’m Andy and I’m 16 years old. My girlfriend just turned 16, but she’s 12 weeks pregnant. Can I get in trouble for having underage sex?


Answer:

Hi Andy,

Andy, we hope that you and your girlfriend are healthy and safe.

NSW law makes sex with a person under 16 a crime.  This means that you can possibly be charged with a crime if you had sex with your girlfriend when she was under 16, but you might not be, depending on the circumstances.

What does the law say about the age of consent?

The age of consent is the age at which the law says a person can agree to have sex. In NSW, this is 16.

If a person is under the age of consent, the law says they cannot legally agree to have sex.  So even if your girlfriend said yes to sex when she was under 16, a person who had sex with her can be charged with a crime.

For more information about the age of consent and sex in NSW, see our NSW Lawstuff page at http://www.lawstuff.org.au/nsw_law/topics/sex/article.

Can you be charged for having underage sex?

Whether you will actually be charged depends on a lot of things, including:
•    whether your girlfriend and her family wish to have you charged with a criminal offence
•    whether anyone reports what has happened to the police
•    whether the police decide a criminal charge is appropriate
•    how close your girlfriend was to being 16 when you first had sex with her.

What happens if someone tells the police?

We can't say exactly what would happen if someone told the police. It depends on all the circumstances. If you and your girlfriend are very close in age, we think it’s unlikely the police would charge you with an offence if you can also show that your girlfriend consented to sex with you, you have a good and loving relationship and that your girlfriend and her parents don’t wish to have you charged with a crime.

We can't guarantee that the police won’t charge you for what has happened if your relationship with your girlfriend is no longer good, or if it becomes abusive or harmful, or if her parents are angry.

What happens if the police try to talk to you?

The NSW Police are allowed to require you to give them your name and address and to provide identification, if they think you have been involved in a crime.  It is against the law for you to refuse this or to give them false information.

Other than this, however, you do NOT have to give any information to the police, even if they say that they are arresting you.   If you are questioned by police you should remain silent until you can get some legal advice.

If the police ask you for an interview, you should get legal assistance before going to the interview and not say anything else. You can find your closest Community Legal Centre by typing in your post code here: http://www.naclc.org.au/clc_directory.php

3. What you can do?

We think it would be a really good idea for you to talk to your parents and your girlfriend’s parents about the situation. You may also like to talk to a social worker or a parenthood centre that can explain all the options going forward to you and your girlfriend.
•    Children by Choice has some useful information on its website about pregnancy: http://www.childrenbychoice.org.au/
•    Pregnancy Birth & Baby has a 24 hour helpline giving advice and support to young people facing pregnancy. You can call them  on 1800 882 436.
•    If you would like to talk to someone about how you're feeling, you can call a counsellor from Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit their website here:  http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

If you have any further questions, please send us a Lawmail from www.lawstuff.org.au/lawmail

Page last updated on 25 June 2015.

   
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