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Statutory Rape

What are the Romeo and Juliet Laws

What are the Romeo and Juliet Laws

Romeo and Juliet laws apply to cases of statutory rape when both members engaging in consensual sexual intercourse are teenage (13-19). Romeo and Juliet laws generally stipulate a certain age gap between the older alleged offender and the younger alleged victim. The specific age gap varies from state to state. Romeo and Juliet laws do not prevent a teenage statutory rapist from facing criminal allegations of breaking statutory rape laws. Statutory rape laws are notorious for convicting and subsequently ruining the lives of otherwise model teenagers with slightly younger sex partners. 
Convicts of statutory rape, in most states, must register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration ruins any possibility of these teenage citizen’s chances of advancing their lives for a sex crime that did not, in any manner, involve the use of force. Statutory rape laws are designed to protect naive teenagers from being taken advantage of sexually by older people who use their advanced age and authority to get their way. Many states did not originally have statutory rape legislation that had special discretion for cases involving teenagers who are not much older than each other.
Most Romeo and Juliet laws provide defendants with an affirmative defense against their charges. An affirmative defense means that the defendant’s lawyer can submit the small difference of age between the two consenting peers as evidence against the state’s case against the defendant. Romeo and Juliet laws also provide for lesser sentences for statutory rape defendants. Some states downgrade charges from felony status to misdemeanor. Some Romeo and Juliet laws make exception of requiring teenagers convicted of statutory rape to register as sex offenders. 
Romeo and Juliet laws are a means of justifying the existence of statutory rape laws with the much needed judicial discretion necessary to make the laws more equitable. Opponents of Romeo and Juliet laws argue that the provisions do not go far enough in making the laws more equitable. They are that on principle to incarcerate a teenage statutory rape offender at all. 
Some argue that the very premise of a statutory rape law constitutes a victimless crime because there is not initiation of force involved in the sex crime like most other sex crimes. Romeo and Juliet laws are essentially a compromise between the two sides of the statutory rape debate. Romeo and Juliet laws generally do not apply to homosexuals; leaving them vulnerable to being charged with harsher penalties for a similar act and circumstances that a heterosexual couple would do. Opponents of this aspect of Romeo and Juliet legislation allege that the law is too discriminatory to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-gender people.
      

Know the Statutory Rape Law to Protect Yourself!

Know the Statutory Rape Law to Protect Yourself!

Statutory rape law is a type of sex crime that involves the unlawful sexual intercourse with someone who does not have the legal authority to consent to having sex. The determining factor in deciding who has the legal authority to consent to sex is age. State legislatures designate this age. Thus, this concept is known as the legal age of consent. 
The legal age of consent is a factor in rape law unique to cases of statutory rape. The age of consent is based on the mean age at which a person is developmentally sound enough to make the decision. Unlike most other forms of rape, the fact that ample consent was given is beside the point. The law does not accept the validity of consent from people younger than the age of consent because they never had the authority to give consent in the first place. Thus, statutory rape implies that the offender had passively coerced the victim into having sexual intercourse.
About ninety percent of states place this age at 16, 17, or 18. Despite the fact that ninety percent of American states place the legal age of consent at those three ages does not mean that statutory rape law is simple. Statutory rape law varies to a great degree from state to state because there are many nuances in the discussing the development of teenagers. What all states have in common is that if the victim is below the age of consent, the parents have the authority to report it. Naturally, the victim can also report the crime to the police him or herself. Many states have adopted statutory rape laws that prevent the criminal prosecution of two teenagers within a few years age difference engaged in consensual sexual relations. 
Statutory rape laws always place blame on the older of the two in the couple. The assumption is that the older of the two manipulated the naive teenager into having sex with them. Statutory rape laws disproportionately target males over females. Over 95% of statutory rape cases involve a male offender and a female victim. Approximately half of statutory rape offenders are males below 21 years of age and have unlawfully had sex with a teenage girl within 4 years younger than he. 
To combat the trend of teenagers having to go to jail for having consensual sex with a slightly younger teenager, many states have changed statutory rape law to have exemptions for teenagers within a 4 to 5 year age gap. These laws are known as Romeo and Juliet laws. Other states have not changed their statutory rape legislation but have added provisions that lower the severity of punishments. As a general rule, statutory rape punishments are higher for older offenders, 21 years or older.    
Some states have statutory rape laws that specifically mention unlawful “sexual penetration” instead of unlawful sexual intercourse or acts to strengthen the non-gender neutral aspect of statutory rape laws. Other states have statutory rape laws that do not cover homosexual statutory rape acts. This is controversial because homosexuals, who would have faced simple statutory rape charges if they were doing a heterosexual sex act, are then susceptible to potentially harsher penalties from other crimes. 
The American tradition of law does not encourage different laws for different people. The general belief in American legal theory is that laws should be applicable to the whole of the public and may only discriminate when it is in the interest of the greater good as in public safety.

Read These Statutory Rape Controversies

Read These Statutory Rape Controversies

Kansas v. Limon

In 2001, the State of Kansas charged Matthew Limon with a 17-year prison sentence for criminal sodomy. Limon took his case to Kansas Appellate court to challenge his harsh sentence. Limon lived in a residential school for the developmentally disabled. Psychologists diagnosed with mild retardation. About a week after his 18th birthday, Limon performed consensual oral sex on his 15-year-old male friend. The difference in age between the two was approximately three years.
The fact is that if they were a straight couple, they would have been charged with statutory rape. Limon would have also been granted the sentencing protections of the Romeo and Juliet laws attached to existing statutory rape legislation, only the law did not apply to homosexual couples. Kansas’ statutory rape law read in such a manner that clearly included sodomy between a teenage girl and teenage boy, this includes oral sex.
During Limon’s trial, his attorneys petitioned the judge to drop the charges of criminal sodomy, arguing that the charge violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The Judge denied the motion and Limon was sentence to 17 years in Prison. A heterosexual would receive a year and three month sentence for the same crime. Matthew Limon subsequently filed for appeal.
The appellate court upheld Matthew Limon’s sentence. The Romeo and Juliet laws of Kansas still stand without any provisions for cases involving homosexuals. This case is a textbook example of judicial discrimination. The Kansas v Limon case prompted many other states to include homosexual statutory rape in their legislation. Many states however, still do not cover homosexuals in their statutory rape legislation. This is an issue equal rights that LGBT activists and civil libertarians believe should apply to similar circumstances of any crime.

Other Controversies Surrounding Romeo and Juliet legislation

Romeo and Juliet do not settle the controversy surrounding cases involving teenagers within a two-year gap. Those who are still against harsh statutory rape penalties after the compromises encompassed in Romeo and Juliet legislation believe that the law should not at all prosecute a teenage couple with only a two year difference of age. They argue that two years is not enough of a developmental gap to constitute malicious intent on part of the older consenting sexual partner. 
The law in many states still regards consensual sex between a 17-year old and a 15-year old as an illegal act. Opponents of Romeo and Juliet legislation says that the law does not go far enough in judicial discretion on a case by case basis. Opponents also say that the changes to many states’ statutory rape laws do not solve the problem of selective enforcement. The laws are typically selectively enforced by angry parents who do not approve of the relationship itself. Some parents choose to press charges while others do not. Opponents argue that statutory laws as they exist, are conducive to bias as a result of parental anger. Also, Romeo and Juliet legislation does not answer the question of what age is appropriate for youths to be legally eligible to consent to sex.   
 

A Guide to the Romeo and Juliet Laws

A Guide to the 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.

What are the State Variations of Statutory Rape

What are the State Variations of Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is the act of sexual intercourse of someone over a certain age with someone under the statutory age of consent. Statutory rape, unlike other forms of rape, only considers the age of the people involved in a sexual act. Consent is not a factor in the prosecution of  the case of statutory rape. The age of consent is the determining factor in statutory rape cases. 
The age of consent varies from state to state extensively. In Louisiana, the age of consent is 17. This means that a 19-year old may not legally have sex with a 16-year-old. In New Jersey, the legal age of consent applies for teenagers between ages 13 and 16 as long as the other sexual actor is within four years of age. Montana’s age of consent is 16, meaning anyone under sixteen is not legally able to consent to sex. For example, a 16 year-old may not have sex with 15 year old, and could face 2 to 100 years in prison as a result of doing so. Other statutory rape laws take into account who does the penetration, meaning that only men are targeted by the law. 
The diversity of statutory rape laws speaks volumes of the controversy of the topic; nobody can seem to agree what age is appropriate because people vary so much in their developmental capacity. Statutory rape also applies if the victim is of the legal age of consent yet their mental age is less than that of the age of consent. This protects the mentally disabled from being taken advantage of sexually, even if the victim gave consent. 
It is clear that teenagers are at different developmental ages and older people can use their seniority to passively coerce sexual consent from the younger individual. The reason why statutory rape laws vary so much from state to state is because developmental psychologists have trouble determining when a child develops enough reason to make their own decision in consenting to sexual intercourse. 
The laws also vary due to the state’s attitude regarding the nuance of each case. Generally, statutory rape laws are meant to protect the youth from having sex with an adult much older than the minor. This is mainly because the act raises concerns of power dynamics that constitute the victim’s hindered ability to make a reasonable decision to consent to sexual intercourse.      

What Does a Statutory Rape Attorney Do?

What Does a Statutory Rape Attorney Do?

Criminal attorneys with experience in statutory rape defense litigation have some trouble fighting charges against their clients. Statutory rape defense in court is more difficult than forcible rape because the fact of consent is disregarded in cases of statutory rape. 
Statutory rape can involve the expressed consent of the minor. However, the reason why the act is illegal from the beginning is because the minor does not legally have the authority to consent  about having sex. In turn, the law only considers the age of the defendant in relation to that of the “victim.”
The prosecutor must only prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that sex had occurred between the offender and the victim. He or she must also confirm the ages of both people involved in the statutory rape proceedings. Previously, this left criminal attorneys defending statutory rape cases with little evidence to submit. Statutory rape defense is notoriously difficult and the high rates of conviction reflects this. 
Romeo and Juliet laws have at least given attorneys something to work with to reduce sentences despite high conviction rates. Attorneys under Romeo and Juliet laws in states that have them, can submit to the judge as evidence to consider reducing sentences in cases of unlawful sexual intercourse. A statutory rape defense attorney can help defendants get a his or her sentence reduced down to probation in some states.
It is important to hire a statutory rape defense lawyer that is familiar with the laws of the state where the charges are being brought. Statutory rape laws change to a great degree from state to state and different laws mean different legal defense strategies. An experienced lawyer may also be able to strike a plea bargain that is favorable to all parties involved in the case. 
Some states have different viable defenses. For example, the state of California recognizes the defense of individuals who sincerely believe that the victim was over the age of 18 (age of consent in CA). Other states do not allow that kind of defense at all. Therefore having a criminal attorney that is experienced with statutory rape defense would be one’s best hope for a favorable outcome of the trial.

How Can Statutory Rape Charges Affect a Person

How Can Statutory Rape Charges Affect a Person

The ramifications of statutory rape charges are multi-faceted, as even if charges are dropped, the stigma that exists with these types of accusations tend to remain. One could easily face significant time in prison or jail and be required to register as a sex offender. The consequences of facing statutory rape charges varies from state to state because each state has very different laws pertaining to the crime. 
Criminal charges of this kind are even damaging if the person is determined to be innocent of the crime. Criminal histories record all arrests made on an individual. Convictions are also recorded in someone’s criminal history. These records are of the public record; anyone can obtain this information if there is a need for it. If convicted, the consequences of facing criminal charges of this nature are even worse.
Having a criminal record with a sex offense may subject someone to a strong social stigma that damages one’s future ability to get a job or even have healthy future relations. This is mainly because once the word “rape” is mentioned in one’s criminal history, it automatically connotes forcible rape. This is not the case in statutory rape because the crime always involves consensual sexual behaviors. Even if a person understands the nature of the statutory rape crime, a person may brand someone as a manipulative and conniving person that preys on weakness. 
To address the issue of the unfair characterization of those convicted of this crime,  many state legislators have dropped the sex offender registration requirement of statutory rape convicts. The majority of people facing statutory rape charges are males under 21 years of age with victims usually within 5 years younger than the offender. The victims are almost always people with whom the offender have a romantic relationship. 
Statutory rape charges used to hold much harsher penalties for younger offenders; however, many states have adopted Romeo and Juliet laws to ease the ramifications of facing statutory rape charges. Generally, the criminal charges involved in this crime are of a more serious nature for older offender. This is more in line with the original intent of the law, to prevent older males from taking advantage of the naivety of younger females.

How is Statutory Rape Punished by Law?

How is Statutory Rape Punished by Law?

Statutory rape is the only form of rape that is inherently non-violent in nature because it lacks force. However, sentencing of statutory rape crimes do not reflect the fact that statutory rape is a non-violent crime. 
The majority of statutory rape cases involve older teenage male offenders who engaged in consensual sexual congress with a female teenage peer that happens to be under the legal age of consent. Legal ages of consent range from as young as 14 to 18. These teenagers often face similar sentences to what an adult would face. In some states teenagers can face 10 years in jail at the minimum. Others are more lenient on younger offenders and have subsequently adopted Romeo and Juliet legislation to curtail harsh sentencing.
Statutory rape is a crime that does not only possess criminal elements; civil charges may also be brought against an offender. Many states have laws that determine the maximum amount of civil damages that may be imposed as a result of statutory rape. 
Cases that involve impregnation of the female as a result of unlawful sexual intercourse may impose civil damages on the offender. The judge may also require the offender to pay child support to the mother. For expenses dating back to an infant’s birth, restitution may be imposed on an offender to ensure that the offender’s minimal parental responsibilities are fulfilled. Some argue that this is unfair to poor offenders because it makes them go back to jail if they cannot make restitution payments.
Some states provide law for harsher civil and criminal penalties in cases that involve extramarital relations. If the use of drugs or alcohol are a factor in the events that lead to the case, then some states may impose harsher sentences and penalties.
Many states have statutory rape sentences that range from 0-20 years in prison. In light of the adoption of Romeo and Juliet legislation, there is an across-the-board trend of harsher sentencing for persons 21 and older. This is more in line with the original intent of the legislation to prevent the exploitation of youths. Some states offer lesser sentencing if there is less of an age gap between the offender and the victim. 
Other states give sentences of probation for minor cases of statutory rape. The severity of sentencing should reflect the severity of the statutory rape case. Statutory rape is a crime that does not only possess criminal elements, Civil charges may also be brought against an offender as well. States have laws that determine the maximum amount of civil damages that may be imposed as a result of statutory rape.
Statutory rape sentencing varies to a great degree from state to state. It would be best to consult local statutes to know what of the above apply to local jurisdictions. In general they depend on the difference of age between the offender and the victim.

An Overview of Sex Crimes

An Overview of Sex Crimes

What is a Sex Crime?
Sex crimes are classified as criminal acts, involving the immoral, illegal, illicit and unethical practice of sexual acts or engagements in sexual behavior. The classification of sex crimes–due to the expansive nature of the legal framework–varies on a locational basis. In general, the classification of sex crimes is contingent on the nature of the crime in question.

 
What is the Age of Consent?
The Age of Consent refers to a legal classification that establishes the legal age for which a person can legally consent to sexual relations. Age of consent correlates the age of a person with the responsibility to engage in sexual or personal activities. Age of consent will differ from region to region throughout the world.
 
 
Types of Sex Crimes

Sexual Assault
Sexual Assault is similar to the criminal act of assault, yet a sexual assault offense is a type of overarching classification of a sex crime due to the inclusion of illicit, indecent, and illegal sexual activity taking place
Rape
Rape is defined as forced and illegal sexual intercourse resulting from the absence of consent between the parties involved; the following varieties of rape charges exist within the realm of sex crimes:
· Statutory rape involves the inclusion of a minor – an individual who is legally-deemed unable to concede to the participation in sexual activities may be classified and subsequently charged as rape due to the absence of consent with regard to age-based stipulations latent in the ‘Age of Consent’ legislative protocol
· Date rape is a form of rape that takes place between individuals who are engaged in a consensual activity (date). Incidents of date rape occur between individuals who are acquainted with one another
· Spousal rape is a form of rape that occurs between individuals who share a union or some form of relationship
· Marital rape is occurs between individuals whom are married
· Statutory rape is a type of rape that occurs between a legal adult and a minor
· Prison rape is occurs between individuals whom are incarcerated in any type of prison or correctional facility
· Gang rape occurs between two or more individuals; in this scenario the group commits a simultaneous rape with joint-participation
Illegal Pornography
The facilitation, ownership, disbursement, and creation of pornography is defined as illegal depicts actions presumed to be overtly unlawful and unethical in sexual nature. Illegal pornography is considered to be a media-based sex crime that can be defined as unconstitutional and illicit sexually-explicit material utilized and undertaken in order to provide sexual gratification:
· Pornography that depicts minors, children, or individuals below the age(s) of 18
· Pornography that depicts sexual acts involving animals
· Pornography that depicts violence and injury

Voyeurism
Sex crimes non-consensual and sexual in nature taking place in an illicit, intrusive, and illegal fashion involving the invasion of another individual’s privacy – in addition to the encroachment on the personal space belonging to another individual – are classified as voyeuristic sex crimes:
 
· Indecent Exposure is the act of disclosing or brandishing any visible stimuli that is considered to be elicit, unlawful, lewd, or objectionable in nature taking place within a public domain
· Sexual Harassment is classified as the welcomed, lewd, and illicit sexual advances through speech or expression; this nature of activity typically takes place on a non-consensual basis
 

Statutory Rape Laws in New Jersey

Statutory Rape Laws in New Jersey

Statutory rape occurs when a person of a certain age engages in sexual intercourse with an individual whom is under the age of consent. The age of consent varies by state, but generally ranges for the ages of 14 to 18. Statutory rape in New Jersey has two stipulations. Under the first stipulation, if an individual who is over the age of 18 acts in statutory rape in New Jersey and it is considered as aggravated sexual assault with an individual who is under the age or 13, the will spend 10 to 20 years in prison. 
Under the second stipulation, if an individual who is four years older than the victim performs in sexual activities with an individual between the ages of 13 and 16 they can receive five to 10 years in prison. The only condition in which an individual can engage in sexual activities with a minor is if they are legally wed.