A Georgia man charged with raping a 13-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to statutory rape and will avoid prison as a result.
Tremayne Octavious Driskell Jr., 21, was originally charged with rape and child molestation, according to The Macon Telegraph. In accordance with his plea deal, Driskell will do five years' probation and the molestation charges will be dropped.
He will also have to pay a $500 fine and $500 in attorney's fees.
The attack occurred in February 2016 when Driskell was visiting a residence in Macon, Georgia. According to the arrest warrant, Driskell sneaked into the teen's bedroom and forced her to have sex with him. Afterward, he told her "not to tell anyone because he didn’t want to go to jail." He was 19 years old at the time.
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Prosecutor Dorothy Hull said the victim waited several months before speaking to anyone about what had taken place. Driskell was arrested in June 2016.
Driskell's defense attorney, Catherine Whitworth, said during the plea hearing on June 26 that her client had never been in trouble with the law before and added that he had been planning to join the Army.
Under Georgia law, rape occurs when a man has "carnal knowledge" of "a female forcibly and against her will," according to FindLaw. The state defines carnal knowledge as "penetration of the female sex organ (vagina) by the male sex organ (penis)."
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Georgia defines statutory rape as a situation in which an adult has sex with a person under the age of 16. Since the law states that a person under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sex, the suspect in a statutory rape case cannot argue consent.
The standard penalty for statutory rape in Georgia is 1-20 years in prison for an offender under the age of 21, and 10-20 years in prison for an offender over the age of 21.
Georgia also has a "Romeo and Juliet" law, which is an extension of the state's statutory rape laws. If the victim is 14-16 years old and the suspect is 18 years old, or less than four years older than the victim, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony.
FindLaw also reports that as many as 90% of the criminal cases which make it to court are settled by way of plea bargaining. Doing so saves money and resources because long trials are avoided, and the defense gets a chance to plead to a lesser charge to avoid bigger fines and/or longer prison sentences.