Volume 73, Number 4

October 1998

Now Sixteen Could Get You Life: Stautory Rape, Meaningful Consent, and the Implications for Federal Sentence Enhancement

Lewis Bossing

Part I of this Note will look at the “crime of violence” definition used in various federal sentence enhancement statutes and at the two approaches the federal courts have taken to deciding whether statutory rape convictions constitute “crimes of violence.” Part II will deconstruct the term “crime of violence” in this context by examining how law and society have come to understand the “violence” of sexual assault and how conceptions of adolescents’ ability to consent to a variety of social interactions have changed. Part III will develop a model for courts to use in identifying adolescent “consent” and apply this model to the facts of some of the cases treating this issue. This Note will argue that statutory rape should not be considered a per se “crime of violence.” Rather, in fairness to defendants facing enhanced sentences, and in recognition of the sexual autonomy of adolescents, courts should evaluate the presence or absence of meaningful consent when making many “crime of violence” determinations in statutory rape cases.