In common law jurisdictions, statutory rape is nonforcible sexual activity in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent (the age required to legally consent to the behavior). Although it usually refers to adults engaging in sexual contact with minors under the age of consent, it is a generic term, and very few jurisdictions use the actual term statutory rape in the language of statutes.
Different jurisdictions use many different statutory terms for the crime, such as sexual assault (SA), rape of a child (ROAC), corruption of a minor (COAM), unlawful sex with a minor (USWAM), carnal knowledge of a minor (CKOAM), unlawful carnal knowledge (UCK), sexual battery or simply carnal knowledge. The terms child sexual abuse or child molestation may also be used, but statutory rape generally refers to sex between an adult and a minor past the age of puberty, and may therefore be distinguished from child sexual abuse. Sexual relations with a prepubescent child is typically treated as a more serious crime.
In statutory rape, overt force or threat is usually not present. Statutory rape laws presume coercion, because a minor or mentally handicapped adult is legally incapable of giving consent to the act.