What is the Romeo And Juliet Law?
How do the Romeo and Juliet laws work?
What are the essential elements you should know!
In this article, we will break down the notion of Romeo And Juliet Law so you know all there is to know about it!
Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!
Let’s dig into our criminal law and age of consent knowledge!
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What Is The Romeo And Juliet Law
The Romeo and Juliet laws refer to statutes, rules, and regulations governing consensual sex with minors.
Typically, the Romeo and Juliet states will allow a person to have consensual sex with a minor provided they do not have more than a certain number of years in age difference.
For example, an adult of 18 years of age may have sex with a minor of 17 years of age.
However, there are other states that make it illegal for a person to have sex with another person below the age of consent even if there’s a slight age difference.
Connecticut and Indiana, in 2007, adopted Romeo and Juliet laws in an attempt to decriminalize consensual sex between teenagers in a dating relationship and with an age difference of less than four years.
Romeo And Juliet Law By State
Some states have laws, rules, and legislation governing the age of consent and possible exemptions.
Let’s look at a few examples to better understand how different states handle the matter.
As a first example, the age of consent in Texas refers to the age when a person can legally consent to engage in sexual activities with another.
If a person is 17 years or older, he or she can give consent to have sexual relationships.
However, a minor of 16 years or below cannot legally consent to engage in sexual activity with another and can be prosecuted by law.
To mitigate the negative consequences of a conviction, a young adult having sex with a minor of 16 years of age or below can be exempt from being registered as a sex offender.
Another example can be Florida.
In Florida, the age of consent is 18 years of age.
As such, it is illegal for a person to have sexual activity with a minor or person under the age of consent.
However, under Florida laws, a “close in age” exemption exists allowing a person to escape possible violations.
Based on these exemptions, it is illegal for a person over the age of 24 to have sexual contact with a person who is below 18.
However, a person below 24 years of age and older than 18 may be protected by the close-in-age exemption.
The Romeo and Juliet law exemption applies when the perceived victim is between 14 and 17 years of age, the perceived offender is not more than four years older, the sexual conduct was consensual, and the offender does not have a record of sex crimes.
Sex Offender Registry
In the cases when a person is found guilty of sex crimes, his or her name can be registered in the sex offender registry.
Being registered in the sex offender registry has severe and negative consequences on a person.
For example, a person with a sex offender record may not be able to find a job easily or may be limited to where he or she can live.
On a social level, the person may be alienated from his or her community.
In some states, when a person is found guilty of sexual activity with a minor, his or her name may go in the sex offender registry unless there’s an exemption.
Also, a person registered in the sex offender registry may petition the court to have his or her name removed.
The decision will then be made by the court as to whether it is justified for the person’s name to be removed.
Possible Criminal Charges
In the event the Romeo and Juliet laws determine that consensual sex was prohibited between two persons, the most common criminal charge that can be brought forth by the prosecutor is statutory rape.
Statutory rape is a common charge considered under the Romeo and Juliet laws when an adult engages in consensual sex with another below the age of consent.
You can have other charges such as indecency with a child that relates to sexual touching.
Prosecutors will charge adults with statutory rape as a means to protect minors from engaging in sexual activity when they are not fully capable of understanding the consequences of such acts.
Some states do not have statutory rape charges but may have other criminal charges that may be filed against an offender.
Defenses for A Romeo And Juliet Crime
In states where Romeo and Juliet laws apply, defendants may present different types of defenses against such accusations.
Although you should consult with a qualified criminal attorney for your particular case, There may be different types of defenses.
Here are some possible defense arguments:
- The prosecutor is charging the wrong defendant
- The evidence is not beyond reasonable doubt
- The crime never actually happened
- The offender was unaware of the minor’s age
- The minor intentionally appeared older to mislead the offender
- The minor initiated the sexual contact
- The minor had participated in sexual activity before
- Good faith mistake of age
It’s important to understand the defense arguments in each state.
For example, in Georgia, the courts have established that the defendant cannot argue that he or she had a good faith belief that the victim was over the age of consent.
Penalties for Romeo and Juliet Law Violations
The purpose of the Romeo and Juliet statutes is to protect minors and ensure that older individuals do not take sexual advantage of those who cannot meaningfully provide consent.
Depending on the applicable laws, an offender may be charged and prosecuted for different types of crimes like statutory rape, child molestation, sexual abuse, or other types of felonies.
Depending on the nature of the conviction, a person may be exposed to:
- Jail sentence
- Community service
- Sex offender registration
- Community service
In extreme cases, depending on the laws and facts of the case, a person may even be exposed to life in jail.
The past criminal record of the offender can also have an impact on the severity of the sentence of punishment imposed by the court.
Age of Consent Reform
The age of consent reform is a movement having an objective to change the age of consent laws.
Generally, as part of the age of consent reform, various proposals are made, such as:
- Raising the age of consent (or lowering it)
- Abolishing the age of consent laws
- Applying close-in-age exemptions or not
- Changing the penalties and sanctions
- Changing the legal reviews performed by the courts
- Age consent related to homosexuals
Romeo Juliet Law Takeaways
So, what are Romeo and Juliet laws?
Let’s look at a summary of our findings.
Romeo Juliet Laws
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