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A Guide to the Romeo and Juliet Laws

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Recently, the majority of statutory rape cases involved two teenagers, one of whom was over the legal age of consent and the other younger than the legal age of consent. In some states this problem was so bad that a 17-year-old boy that had consensual sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl would face up to 20 years in prison. This was not a rare occurrence; many of these teenagers who were caught up in this legal maelstrom were otherwise model teenagers. Many people have argued that these harsh penalties were not in line with the original intent of statutory rape legislation, to prevent naive youths from manipulative older men. In the case of the 17 and 15-year-old couple, this was obviously not the case. The public outcries necessitated the action of law makers to make the law fairer for cases of statutory rape that involve younger offenders. After all, the very basis of statutory rape is developmental. Statutory rape laws are based on the average mental age at which a person can make a rational decision to consent to sex. As a result, lawmakers struck a compromise between people who believed statutory rape punishments to be too harsh and people who were for statutory rape legislation.The changes to the corpus of many states' statutory rape law are collectively known as Romeo and Juliet laws. Romeo and Juliet laws uphold the illegality of consensual sex between an older male and a younger female but offer lesser sentences as a result of this legislative compromise. Romeo and Juliet laws also make a further distinction between child molestation and statutory rape. Many states define child molestation as an adult performing a sex act on a child younger than 12. Many states have changed their statutory rape laws to fit this definition, adopting a new class of statutory rape that stipulated that a teenager can legally have consensual sex with a 14, 15, or 16 year-old provided that the other sex partner is within four years of those ages. Persons who have sex with teenagers that are any higher than four years of those ages are subject to prosecution.Romeo and Juliet laws offer a different approach to the prosecution of statutory rape in cases that involve two teenagers. Defense lawyers can use the fact there is a small difference in each party's age to reduce sentencing. Some state's have Romeo and Juliet laws that downgrade the severity of the crime from felony to misdemeanor to make a teenage offender eligible to be sentenced to probation. Prison sentences are much shorter with Romeo and Juliet laws usually 1-4 years, depending on the severity of the crime.Romeo and Juliet laws are a means of gaining judicial consensus between the legal system and the public and is generally successful in that right. However, some argue that the provisions of Romeo and Juliet legislation do not go far enough in making the law more equitable for teenagers. Many states still neglect to adopt added protections for cases of homosexual statutory rape, resulting in cases of discrimination at the bench. In addition, many argue that the provisions do address the issue that the law unfairly disregards the question of consent. Compromises often do not satisfy everyone but they are important steps in creating better legislation that would serve all well.
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  • Romeo And Juliet Laws

    Recently, the majority of statutory rape cases involved two teenagers, one of whom was over the legal age of consent and the other younger than the legal age of consent. In some states this problem was so bad that a 17-year-old boy that had consensual sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl would face up to 20 years in prison. This was not a rare occurrence; many of these teenagers who were caught up in this legal maelstrom were otherwise model teenagers. Many people have argued that these harsh penalties were not in line with the original intent of statutory rape legislation, to prevent naive youths from manipulative older men.

    In the case of the 17 and 15-year-old couple, this was obviously not the case. The public outcries necessitated the action of law makers to make the law fairer for cases of statutory rape that involve younger offenders. After all, the very basis of statutory rape is developmental. Statutory rape laws are based on the average mental age at which a person can make a rational decision to consent to sex. As a result, lawmakers struck a compromise between people who believed statutory rape punishments to be too harsh and people who were for statutory rape legislation.

    The changes to the corpus of many states' statutory rape law are collectively known as Romeo and Juliet laws. Romeo and Juliet laws uphold the illegality of consensual sex between an older male and a younger female but offer lesser sentences as a result of this legislative compromise. Romeo and Juliet laws also make a further distinction between child molestation and statutory rape. Many states define child molestation as an adult performing a sex act on a child younger than 12.

    Many states have changed their statutory rape laws to fit this definition, adopting a new class of statutory rape that stipulated that a teenager can legally have consensual sex with a 14, 15, or 16 year-old provided that the other sex partner is within four years of those ages. Persons who have sex with teenagers that are any higher than four years of those ages are subject to prosecution.

    Romeo and Juliet laws offer a different approach to the prosecution of statutory rape in cases that involve two teenagers. Defense lawyers can use the fact there is a small difference in each party's age to reduce sentencing. Some state's have Romeo and Juliet laws that downgrade the severity of the crime from felony to misdemeanor to make a teenage offender eligible to be sentenced to probation. Prison sentences are much shorter with Romeo and Juliet laws usually 1-4 years, depending on the severity of the crime.

    Romeo and Juliet laws are a means of gaining judicial consensus between the legal system and the public and is generally successful in that right. However, some argue that the provisions of Romeo and Juliet legislation do not go far enough in making the law more equitable for teenagers.

    Many states still neglect to adopt added protections for cases of homosexual statutory rape, resulting in cases of discrimination at the bench. In addition, many argue that the provisions do address the issue that the law unfairly disregards the question of consent. Compromises often do not satisfy everyone but they are important steps in creating better legislation that would serve all well.

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