Statutory Rape: Romeo and Juliet Laws Aren't Universal :: Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore Criminal Law Office of Nicolai Cocis
If you pay attention to age of consent laws, then you've no doubt heard about Romeo and Juliet laws. This is a colloquial term for a legal exemption when two sexual partners are close in age, but one is considered an adult, and the other a minor. The idea is that laws meant to protect minors shouldn't harm those who were recently minors themselves, and who shouldn't be treated as criminals now because the person they're dating happens to be a year or so younger than they are.
Unfortunately for a lot of teens out there trying to navigate their coming of age, there are a lot of states out there, including California, with no such law on the books.
Hours or Years, It Doesn't Matter
In states like New York, where the age of consent is 17, as soon as someone hits that magic number they can freely consent to have sex with any other partner of legal age. However, because there is no close-in-age defense in the state, it doesn't matter if your partner is only a few days younger than you, a few months, or a few years; they still cannot legally consent to have sex with you.
The only exception in most states that don't have a Romeo and Juliet law is when a couple is married. A married couple can engage in consensual sexual activities, even if such would normally constitute “statutory rape”.
Ignorance of The Law is No Excuse
It's a huge mistake to think that because a law exists somewhere in the country that it happens to be the law where you live. Just because something is legal in California, New Mexico, or Tennessee, that won't help your case if the actions you committed didn't happen in those parts of the country. That's why it's important to do your research, and to understand the repercussions of your actions locally, and at the state level. Otherwise you might find that what you thought was perfectly legal is, in fact, not legal at all.
We Can Help!
If you or a loved one is involved in a statutory rape case, the most important thing you can do is to get a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer on your side. Since 1999, we have helped many adults and minors / juveniles from the Riverside County cities of Temecula, Menifee, Murrieta, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Perris and Corona. We'll guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected at every step of the way.