Age of Consent in Pennsylvania

Age of Consent in Pennsylvania – Age and experience create a power imbalance that makes it impossible for a younger person to freely give consent.

What Does the Age of Consent Mean?

The age of consent is the legally defined age at which a person is deemed legally competent to consent to sexual activity with another person.

Is the Age of Consent the Same in Every State?

The age of consent can vary a great deal from state to state – and, consent is, in most cases dependent upon the ages of both individuals involved, as well as the relationship that exists between the two people, and the context of their relationship. So, you cannot simply look at the age of the person and think “They are over XX age, so they can give consent.”

As an example – in Pennsylvania, even if a person is over 16, which is considered the legal age of consent in Pennsylvania, if the other party happens to be a teacher, or leader, or have a power advantage (be in a position of power) over the other person, then even being above the age of consent in Pennsylvania would not apply and the person in the more powerful position would be guilty of Institutional Sexual Assault.

What Happens if a Person Violates the Age of Consent Laws?

Charges for violating age of consent laws can vary from a misdemeanor in some states to being convicted of full-on statutory rape which is seen in many states as the legal equivalent to rape, and charged as. As with every other aspect of the law, charges vary depending on the region. The age of the offender, the age of the victim, the context of the sexual activity, and what sexual acts were performed can all severely affect the punishment of the offender.

To see many of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Assault laws, you can visit:

Age of Consent Laws in Pennsylvania:

  • Children less than 13 years old cannot grant consent to sexual activity.
  • Teens between the ages of 13 and 15 cannot consent to sexual activity with anyone who is four or more years older than them.
  • People ages 16 and older can legally consent to sexual activity with anyone they choose, as long as the other person does not have authority over them as defined in Pennsylvania’s institutional sexual assault statute

Statutory Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania

It is considered a felony statutory sexual assault when:

  • one person is 13 and the other is 17 or older
  • one person is 14 and the other is 18 or older
  • one person is 15 and the other is 19 or older

Institutional Sexual Assault Laws Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania also recognizes that power imbalances in certain relationships make consent impossible, regardless of age. It is considered felony institutional sexual assault when sexual activity occurs with an employee/agent of a:

  • School (teacher/coach)
  • State or county jail
  • Personal care/group home
  • Other licensed residential facility serving youth
  • And more

To read the entire statute, please visit: Pennsylvania’s Institutional Sexual Assault Statute

Laws Are Updated Often

The information on this page should not be considered everything you need to know about the age of consent in Pennsylvania and should not be taken as legal advice. Laws change and are updated constantly. You should make yourself aware of the laws regarding the age of consent in Pennsylvania if you are engaging in sexual activity, and make sure you stay current on any changes or updates. Not only does this make you a responsible citizen, if you disagree with the laws, or proposed changes to laws about the age of consent in Pennsylvania, if you keep abreast of updates, and proposed changes, you can make your voice heard to ensure lawmakers are fully aware of the full scope of the impact any changes to Pennsylvania law may make. To read the most current laws about the age of consent in Pennsylvania, please visit:

Help is available

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual violence or is a survivor of sexual violence and would like support, WOAR is here for you. Please contact WOAR at 215-985-3333. We are here for you 24/7.