The law applies to men, women, gay, lesbian or straight in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you’re in another part of the world, you should find out what the law in your country says – unfortunately, we’re not able to cover anywhere but the UK.

If you are charged, the likelihood is you’ll be given a caution, or a fine, and put on the Sex Offenders Register for one year if you’re under 18 (two years if you’re over 18).

18 year old dating a 17 year old-61

The CPS rarely prosecutes underage people of similar age, as long as there is no abuse or exploitation.

Even though a pregnancy can be seen as ‘evidence’ that underage sex has taken place – they’ll still be looking more at whether there was abuse or exploitation that led to the pregnancy.

And, sexy messages as well as photos could count as ‘sexual activity’ in the age of consent law.

So, if either of you is under 18, it’s considered illegal – even though you can have actual sex at 16.

So the ‘age of consent’ is the age at which, legally, you’re deemed able to make the decision to say ‘yes’ to sex and to engage in sexual activity.

In the UK, this is 16 – but you might feel ready earlier or later than that.

This is just one reason why the law is confusing and hard to follow.

Before you start having sex, it’s important you understand what giving (and getting) sexual consent means. According to the , it’s a criminal offence for any kind of sexual activity to take place between two people where one or both participants is under 16.

By sending sexually explicit images or messages you’re actually breaking two laws.