Can a Child Be Charged with Molestation of Another Child?

Written By: Moermond & Mulligan, LLC

Last Updated: 11-01-2023

Posted on Sunday, October 15th, 2023 at 9:00 am    

Most people in Cincinnati understand that child molestation is a serious crime. Convicted offenders may face lengthy prison sentences, and they must also register as sex offenders in Ohio. However, what happens if the accused is another minor?

Prosecutors can indeed charge a minor with molestation of another child. Hiring a criminal defense attorney with a thorough knowledge of juvenile sex crime laws is critical if your child is facing child molestation charges.

Defining Child Molestation in Ohio

Child molestation refers to the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor by an adult or another minor. It involves a broad range of behaviors, from inappropriate touching to sexual intercourse. Under Ohio law, child molestation includes:

  • Touching a child’s genitals or private areas, either directly or through clothing, for sexual gratification
  • Engaging in sexual conduct with a child, including vaginal, oral, or anal penetration
  • Exposing one’s genitals to a child for sexual gratification
  • Asking, coercing, or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts or simulation of sexual acts, in person or online
  • Producing, possessing, or sharing child pornography
  • Any act that serves to sexually exploit or abuse a child 

Types of Child Molestation a Minor Can Be Charged With

Ohio’s laws regarding juvenile child molestation can be confusing. In many instances, they are counterintuitive because they include acts many people would consider normative moments of sexual development. Other forms of child molestation are decidedly more apparent. Child molestation charges against a minor may involve:

  • Sharing pornography
  • Sexting between minors
  • Fondling
  • Sexual contact
  • Date rape
  • Gang rape

At What Age Can a Child Be Charged with Child Molestation in Ohio?

In most cases, a child must be 13 or older to face sexual offense charges. If a child is younger than 13, they will typically face charges only if the prosecution can demonstrate that the offender used physical force.

Can a Minor Be Charged as an Adult?

A child aged 14 or older can face trial as an adult if there is probable cause and the crime is particularly severe. Furthermore, the court may try a minor as an adult if they have reason to believe that the juvenile system will not help the child and the community’s safety would benefit from the child facing adult consequences.

Rules for whether and when children may be tried as adults differ for 14–15-year-olds and 16–17-year-olds. Speak to a knowledgeable Ohio juvenile defense attorney to learn more about what your child might face.

Will a Minor Go to Jail for Child Molestation in Ohio?

If charged with child molestation as a minor, the child may face time in juvenile hall. If charged as an adult, consequences include prison time.

Is it Illegal for Minors to Have Sex in Ohio?

The legal age of consent in Ohio is 16. Anyone aged 18 or older may face statutory rape charges if they engage in sexual activities with a child aged 15 or younger.

However, Ohio has a close-in-age exemption that says minors between the ages of 13 and 17 (inclusive) may have consensual sexual relations with each other.

Does a Minor Have to Register as a Sex Offender If Found Guilty of Child Molestation?

Juvenile classification on the sex offender registry depends on several factors. Chief among these is the child’s age at the time of the offense.

  • A 16- or 17-year-old who is found guilty of a sex offense must register.
  • A 14- or 15-year-old who was previously found guilty must register if they receive a second conviction.
  • A 14- or 15-year-old might need to register for a first offense unless the court determines there are mitigating factors.
  • Children under the age of 14 are not eligible for registry. 

Defending Against Sexual Abuse Charges

If a minor faces child molestation accusations, it is critical to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A knowledgeable lawyer can build a robust defense by:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation of the allegations
  • Assessing the strength of the prosecution’s case
  • Advocating for the charges to be filed in juvenile court rather than adult court
  • Negotiating with the prosecution for lesser charges or pretrial diversion programs
  • Suppressing illegally obtained evidence
  • Presenting exonerating evidence and witnesses
  • Arguing mitigating factors to reduce penalties if convicted
  • Helping the minor and family understand the complex legal process

With an aggressive defense strategy, many charges can be reduced or dismissed, protecting the minor from the severe consequences of conviction.

Contact an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer in Cincinnati

If your child is facing child molestation charges in Cincinnati, you need a skilled attorney to help you protect their rights and liberties. Contact Moermond & Mulligan, LLC at (513) 421-9790 today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.