What is Romeo and Juliet law: Statutory Rape Laws

In the United States, every state has an age consent, and if the child is under the age of 16 or 18 years old, they have no permission to engage in sexual acts. Therefore, statutory rape considers a crime that is a consensual sexual relationship between two teenagers. Statutory rape typically applies to sexual intercourse between an 18 years old adult and someone under the age of consent. 

Therefore, some states implemented Romeo and Juliet laws where one person is under the age of consent. This article will tell you about what is statutory rape? What is Romeo and Juliet’s law? How was it enacted, and which states are under it?

What is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape is different from forcible rape because, in this, there is a status offense, and it does not require any element of force. In this, the accused had a sexual relationship with someone under the age of consent. Well, it is prosecuted as a sexual assault crime, and in penalties, prison time and registration as a sex offender can be included.

Young adults and their parents have good reason to be concerned if they think they may be subject to criminal charges. However, there are some variables to the age of consent rules. If we talk about age, then nonsecular sex between two teenagers should not be a crime.

Every state in the United States has different forms of consent, but if we talk generally, if the age difference is not more than four years, they may have consensual sex with a partner between 13 years and 16 years old. States enact the Romeo and Juliet law, so let’s know what the Romeo and Juliet law is.

What is Romeo and Juliet’s Law?

Romeo and Juliet law applies only to prevent young people from being taken advantage of by someone who could coerce consent. Yes! It is an exception in the law which prevents the underage prosecution who engage in consensual sex. Also, both parties are close in age, and one is below the age of consent.

Romeo and Juliet law

Why is it Called Romeo and Juliet Law?

They are taken from William Shakespeare after the famous play Romeo Shakespeare. In this drama, two teens fall in love, but the rivalry between their families is apart. The teens kill themselves because they, as teens, think that is the only way to be together. 

Romeo and Juliet law is established to protect a teen’s clean record, especially during high school days when most teens have sexual relationships. Furthermore, the law ensures consenting relationships in sexual assault arrests.

Statutory Rape Laws

There are  different categories of statutory rape laws, which break down as follows:

  • Aggravated Sexual Assault:

In this category, there is sexual penetration with someone who is under the age of 13. In addition, between the ages of 13 and 6, the defendant is a relative or is in a supervisory, disciplinary, and parental position.

  • Sexual Assault

In this category, sexual contact with a person under age 16 where the defendant is at least four years older. Furthermore, a person aged between 16 and 18 and the defendant is a relative or in a supervisory and potential position.

Romeo and Juliet Law In Different States

The age of legal consent varies state to state, such as in New Jersey; it changes from as young as 13 to no older than 17 and 18 when engaged in sexual contact with a relative or another authority figure. In Michigan, under the age of 13 from both parties will not be charged with statutory rape unless they are at least three years older.

If a younger person’s age is between 13 and 16, the older one will not be charged with statutory rape unless they are at least four years older. Hence, in this state, a 15-year-old teenager could engage in sexual acts with a 13-year-old and would not be found guilty of statutory rape, but a 17-year-old could not do that.

These statutory rape laws are not found in every state. However, it is a liability claim, so a person can be charged with the crime if they are not aware of the sex partner’s age. Statutory rape is a serious crime that can result in jail time and an offender classification.

Therefore, it is necessary to consult with an experienced criminal law attorney immediately if you have been accused of statutory rape. In Mississippi, the age of consent is 16 years old when teens are legally old to consent to sexual activity. That means in this state, aged 15 or younger teens can not legally consent to sexual activity.

So people face consequences for the violation of statutory rape laws when they have sexual intercourse with an individual under 16 unless they are not spouses. This age exemption exists when the age gap between parties is less than 36 months. In Texas, the age of consent is 17 years, which means if someone of this age has sex with someone under the age of consent, it would be considered underage sex with a minor.

Romeo and Juliet law

Consequences of violating Romeo and Juliet law

A person who violates the statutory rape law is a second-degree felony and is kept in prison for 2 to 20 years. Sexual Assault of younger than 14 is punishable from 65 to 99 years or life imprisonment. There are some other consequences for violating this law, such as 

  • Permanent criminal record
  • Limitation of living place
  • Complications in obtaining employment
  • Loss of inability to get a professional license in the future.
  • Removal of a visa, deportation, or permanent resident status
  • Denial of citizenship application
  • Os of voting rights
  • Loss of custody or visitation with your children

Final Words

In a nutshell, where the statutory rape ratio was at its peak, Romeo and Juliet’s law was enacted there. The major purpose is to avoid being considered sex with a minor. The Romeo and Juliet law is applied in many states with some minor changes. There are also other states where there is no Romeo and Juliet law, but the age of consent is set at 18.

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