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Document Type

Article

First Page

1

Abstract

Since 2005, California civil courts have effectively abandoned the “age of consent” set by former California statutory rape law and, arguably, encoded in current penal code sex crime provisions. In declaring that California civil law may credit a child’s consent to sex with an adult, courts conflate or confuse legal consent, capacity, and acquiescence. Given that California federal antidiscrimination cases have begun to treat minors like fully mature adults, other states may adopt these dangerous precedents. This Article analyzes both California and United States Supreme Court cases to conclude that a strict liability civil law approach to juvenile acquiescence to sex with an adult would better serve developing teenagers. Brief exploration of adolescent assent, a new mechanism based in traditional contract law for dealing with the decisions of maturing teenagers, also justifies review of the current approaches in California and across the nation.

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