My daughter is 15, turning 16 in July. She’s 5 weeks pregnant. Her boyfriend is 20. What can happen if I don’t want to press charges?

My daughter is 15.  She’s been with her 20 year old boyfriend for 2 months. She’s been lying saying she was 17 and now they’re expecting.  My daughter is 5 weeks old.  I don’t want to press chargers because he didn’t know and he already has custody of his 1 year old.  My daughter will be 16 in July.  What can I do to help him?  I don’t want to press charges.

I recently answered this question on Avvo.com.  The writer has been placed in a very difficult situation.  According to Ohio law, the boyfriend has committed the criminal offense of Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor.  Due to the fact that the boyfriend is more than four years older than the daughter, but less than ten years older, the offense would be a felony of the fourth degree.  If convicted, the boyfriend would have to have to register as a Tier II offender, every 180 days for 25 years.  The daughter’s lying about her age is not a defense to the offense.

If the writer has a knowledge that such an offense occurred, but fails to report it, then the writer has committed the offense of Failure to Report a Crime, as the offense that was not reported is a felony.  Failure to Report a Crime is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

It is not as if this offense will go undetected.  Doctors and nurses who are or will be providing medical care to the daughter are mandated reporters.  In other words, if they suspect that the daughter, a minor, has been (sexually) abused, they are required to report the offense to law enforcement and/or children services.  Avoiding prenatal care to avoid mandated reporters is not advised, as it could jeopardize the well-being of both the unborn child and the writer’s daughter.  If children services gets involved and believes that the writer has been deceitful regarding her knowledge of the offense, it could affect the writer’s continued custody of the daughter.

In this situation, the best advice is to hire an experienced criminal law attorney, who also handles family law matters, and is familiar with children services cases.  This is a complicated series of issues that need to be carefully thought out.  This is not an uncommon scenario.  Oftentimes, law enforcement can be reasonable and may elect not to pursue charges if they feel that a mother is doing the right thing by reporting the offense and that the daughter is close to being the age of consent and was not taken advantage of by the boyfriend.  Many law enforcement officers would agree that making the boyfriend a Tier II sex offender would be harsh and unfair.  Nevertheless, it is critical to hire the right attorney who can help the writer decide the best course of action and communicate with the authorities in the optimal manner to avoid disaster for this family.

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