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Indiana's Sexual Misconduct with a Minor Laws 35-42-4-9


Sexual misconduct with a minor is a sensitive and complex issue that can have severe legal consequences. In the state of Indiana, this crime is defined under Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-9. In this blog post, we will discuss this law in detail, its various classifications, defenses, and the importance of seeking legal counsel if you or someone you know is facing charges related to sexual misconduct with a minor.


Understanding Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-9

Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-9 deals with sexual misconduct with a minor and outlines the specifics of this offense. It's important to note that this law is designed to protect minors from sexual exploitation while taking into consideration various factors that can affect the seriousness of the crime. The law is divided into several subsections, each addressing different aspects of the offense.


(a) Sexual Conduct with a Minor

The first subsection of this law addresses sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child under the age of sixteen by a person at least eighteen years of age. The severity of the offense is classified as follows:

  1. Level 5 felony if committed by a person at least eighteen years of age.

  2. Level 4 felony if committed by a person at least twenty-one years of age.

  3. Level 1 felony if committed with deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, results in serious bodily injury, or involves furnishing the victim with a drug or controlled substance without their knowledge.

(b) Fondling or Touching with Intent

This subsection addresses fondling or touching with a child under the age of sixteen by a person at least eighteen years of age with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the adult. The offense is classified as follows:

  1. Level 6 felony if committed by a person at least eighteen years of age.

  2. Level 5 felony if committed by a person at least twenty-one years of age.

  3. Level 2 felony if committed with deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or involves furnishing the victim with a drug or controlled substance without their knowledge.

(c) Defenses

The law provides certain defenses for those accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. These defenses include:

  1. Reasonable belief that the child was at least sixteen years of age (not applicable to offenses in subsections a(2) or b(2)).

  2. The child is or has ever been married (not applicable to offenses in subsections a(2) or b(2)).

  3. The "Romeo and Juliet" defense:

    • The age gap between the accused and the victim is no more than four years.

    • The relationship was a dating or ongoing personal relationship, excluding family relationships.

    • The crime was not committed by a person at least twenty-one years of age.

    • The crime was not committed with deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or involved the furnishing of drugs or controlled substances without the victim's knowledge.

    • The crime was not committed by a person having a position of authority or substantial influence over the victim.

  4. No prior sex offenses against any other person.

  5. Not promoting prostitution with respect to the victim.

It's important to understand that the availability of these defenses may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.


The Importance of Legal Counsel

Being accused of sexual misconduct with a minor is a serious matter, and the legal consequences can be life-altering. That's why it's crucial to seek professional legal counsel if you or someone you know is facing charges related to this offense. A criminal defense attorney experienced in Indiana's laws can help you understand your rights, build a strong defense, and guide you through the legal process.


Indiana's sexual misconduct with a minor laws are designed to protect minors from sexual exploitation, taking into account various factors that can affect the severity of the offense. Understanding the different classifications and available defenses is essential if you or someone you know is facing charges related to this crime. Legal counsel is indispensable in such cases to ensure that your rights are protected and to help you navigate the complex legal system.

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