In Oregon, the age of consent for sexual activity is 18 years old. In principle, this means that anyone under 18 cannot legally have sex and anyone older than 18 cannot have sex with anyone younger than 18. If they do, they commit statutory rape.
However, Oregon also has authorized a “Romeo and Juliet” defense to the charge of statutory rape. This provision in ORS 163.345 effectively allows sexual consent if the partners are within 3 years of age. Thus, an 18-year old can have sex with a 15-year old and in principle a 16-year old could have sex with a 13-year old provided that both partners are within 3 years of age and it is consensual.
In fact, given the text of the statutes, a 14 or 15-year old could have sex with a 12-year old if it was consensual. However, for cases of sexual misconduct, the alleged victim must be at least 15 years old for defendants to claim ORS 163.345 as a defense. (Sexual misconduct is a C misdemeanor).
It is a common misconception that consensual sex of two people under 18 is legal. It is not actually legal; the law providing criminal charges for Rape II and Rape III are broad and clear – it is illegal. In theory, if two teenagers within 3 years had consensual sex after prom, they could both be charged by the DA. However, this would almost certainly never happen because both teenagers could point to ORS 163.345 and that would clear them in any trial.
But Romeo and Juliet notwithstanding, Oregon consent laws are among the strictest in the world. In most European countries and many US states, it is fully legal for a 16-year old to consent to sex with a partner of any age. In Oregon, only an 18-year old can consent to sex with a partner of any age.
For more information on consent laws in the USA and worldwide, visit https://www.ageofconsent.net/