The Romeo and Juliet Laws The Romeo and Juliet Laws

Posted By : Alisha Wood | Date : 04-11-2016

The laws governing statutory rape are very firm, especially in California. With rape statistics very high and law enforcement under tight scrutiny, it is always important to know your rights when it comes to consensual sex.


The “Romeo & Juliet Laws” that are often spoken about among minors or new adults are actually a little bit more complicated than they appear. They do not completely remove blame from a defendant for engaging in sexual activity with a minor, but they may be able to help you build a stronger case for innocence. Here is what you need to know:


What is the age of consent in California?

Age of consent, or the age someone is fully considered an adult, may vary from state to state. In California, you are no longer a minor at the age of 18. This means anyone 17 or younger is still considered a minor and will be tried as such.


What are the laws governing statutory rape?

California’s statutory rape laws are very plainly laid out. The state has deemed anyone under the age of 18 incapable of making mature decisions about sex; therefore, any sexual acts between an adult and a minor are considered non consensual and therefore illegal by statute, hence statutory rape.


The penalties for statutory rape differ depending on the ages of the defendant and the victim:


  • Unlawful sexual intercourse describes intercourse or penetration (even slight) between a minor and defendant of any age.
  • Unlawful oral copulation describes oral sex between a minor and adult of any age.
  • Sexual penetration describes intercourse or even slight penetration between a minor 14-15 years of age and a defendant 10 or more years older.
  • Lewd and lascivious acts upon a child describes sexual contact between a minor 13 years old or younger and a defendant of any age.


What can the Romeo & Juliet Laws do for my case?

The Romeo and Juliet exception was written to try to protect teens who engage in consensual sex with their peers, if they are close in age. The exception states that consensual sex between a minor and an adult who are 3 or fewer years apart in age is not tried as a felony offense. It is instead reduced to a misdemeanor. This exception may dramatically reduce statutory rape fines and jail time, but will not get you acquitted completely.


Recent Case Development

While California criminal law clearly states a minor cannot provide consent to sexual acts, there have been many cases tried in civil courts that claim otherwise. There have been several recent cases associated with LA Unified School District and others in which the criminal case found a defendant guilty, but its civil hearing turned tables onto the minor, claiming he or she had the right and ability to consent. These inconsistencies may aid your case, depending on the charges and whether or not there is proof of consent.


If you or a loved one have been charged with statutory rape, we encourage you to call us for help. This fight cannot be won alone, and we have a team dedicated to winning your freedom.

Contact the Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood at (619) 356-2249 and regain your sense of dignity and hope.

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