Understanding The Romeo And Juliet Law In Florida
As with every other state in the nation, Florida has very clear laws about sexual relationships and consent. When individuals break these laws they may be charged with a sex crime and if convicted, will face serious consequences. One potential penalty is being placed on the sex offender registry. While the law is strict, there is an exception made when two people who are close in age are intimately involved with each other. This is known as the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law. It is critical that everyone knows the law, and when it may or may not apply to them.
The Age of Consent in Florida
In Florida, the legal age of consent is 18 years old. This means it is illegal for anyone to engage in sexual activity with anyone younger than 18 years of age. When someone breaks this law, they can be charged with statutory rape, even if their partner did not object to the activity. It also does not matter if the adult was not aware of the minor’s age. People younger than 18 years old are not considered to have the capacity to consent and so, statutory rape charges may apply.
While the law is very clear, and statutory rape is a very serious crime, there is an exception to it. This is known as the Romeo and Juliet law.
What is the Romeo and Juliet Law?
The Romeo and Juliet law of the state outlines exceptions for people who engage in sexual activity with a minor, but the two individuals must be relatively close in age. The Romeo and Juliet law is intended to protect teenagers and young adults who are sexually active. For the law to apply, all of the following criteria must be met:
- The minor must be between 14 and 17 years of age,
- The adult cannot be more than 1,460 days older, approximately four years, older than the minor. However, it is important to note that if the adult is 1,461 days older than the minor, the law will not protect them,
- The minor consented to the sexual activity, and
- The adult has no previous record of any sex crimes.
Florida’s Romeo and Juliet law was passed in 2007, but anyone charged prior to that date may still be protected. It is also important to note that even the Romeo and Juliet law does not legalize sexual relations with a minor. It only provides individuals with the opportunity to petition the court for a reduced sentence or removal from the sex offender registry. In many cases, the prosecution may decide not to pursue the case when the Romeo and Juliet law applies.
Our Sex Crimes Attorney in Tampa Can Defend Your Case
If you have been charged with statutory rape or any other offense involving a minor, our Tampa sex crimes attorney at All Family Law Group, P.A. can provide the strong defense you need. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you retain your freedom.