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Romeo And Juliet Law California: How To Avoid Prison

Romeo And Juliet Law California - California Romeo And Juliet Law - What Is The Legal Age Of Consent In California

What is the Romeo And Juliet Law in California?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • what sex crimes they accuse minors of
  • how to file a petition for Romeo and Juliet exemptions
  • what this California law does NOT do
  • age gaps for California to be eligible for these exemptions
  • what defenses you can use for statutory rape and sexual assault
  • what criminal charges the prosecutors will pin on you

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

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Key Points About Romeo And Juliet Laws

  • Romeo & Juliet laws reduce penalties for consensual sex between minors of similar age.
  • The laws apply only to consensual sexual activity between minors.
  • Does not protect minors from other illegal acts (i.e., drugs and alcohol).
  • Also known as “close in age” laws, they are not intended to condone sex between minors.
  • Protect minors from the harsh consequences of consensual sex with close in age person.
  • Does not provide a defense to other crimes like statutory rape or sexual assault of a minor.
  • Adults engaging in sexual activity with minors are not protected.

Romeo And Juliet Laws In California

In this section, you’ll learn about:

  • what the California Romeo and Juliet Law is
  • what the laws do and DON’T do
  • what the California penal code says

What Is Romeo And Juliet Law?

California Romeo and Juliet law protects young couples from facing severe criminal charges.

These laws provide protections for young couples who engage in consensual sexual contact.

But who are still technically violating the law.

The California Romeo and Juliet Laws:

  • recognize that teens, especially those close in age, often engage in consensual sex.
  • provide a measure of protection for young people who engage in a sexual relationship with someone close in age but still technically violate the law.
  • ensure that young people who engage in consensual sexual acts do not have to live with the stigma of being labeled as sex offenders.
  • ensure that young couples are not unfairly punished
  • provide an important reminder that young people should be aware of the risks associated with engaging in sexual activity.

Without these laws, the older party could get charged with statutory rape.

Even if both sexual partners have consented to the sexual conduct.

Romeo and Juliet laws allow young couples to engage in consensual sexual relations.

Without the fear of prosecution if the age difference is 3 years or less.

These laws also provide protections for couples who are close in age but one partner is a minor.

The older partner may not be charged with a crime if the age difference is less than 3 years.

California Romeo and Juliet laws do not make the older party immune to rape charges.

There are still severe penalties for adults who engage in sexual contact with minors.

The laws are not intended to protect adults who are significantly older than their partners.

What Romeo And Juliet Laws Do

Romeo and Juliet law states that they:

  • provide protection for two minorshaving consensual sex from sex crimes
  • onlyapply to minors who are close in age
  • reduce or eliminate criminal chargesfor consensual sexual activity
  • focus on the age difference, not the age of the perpetrator
  • protecthigh school teens who are having consensual sex
  • depend on the age at the time of the offense

These laws only apply to two consenting minors who are close in age.

What These Laws Do NOT Do

These laws in California provide certain protections under criminal law.

But only for individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity with a minor.

However, these laws do not do everything.

We need to understand what the California law does and does not do.

This ensures that people are not taking advantage of the California law.

California Romeo and Juliet laws do not:

  • remove therequirement for minors to get parental consent for marriage
  • decriminalize anyform of sexual activity involving minors
  • invalidate statutory rape laws
  • require that all ages of consent be the same
  • provide a defense to all criminal charges involving consensual sex between minors
  • providerelief from sex offender registration requirements
  • provide anaffirmative defense to civil liability
  • provideprotection from prosecution for all crimes other than sexual offenses
  • provide protection from prosecutionfor crimes committed by adults with minors

The California Penal Code is Penal Code 261.5

The California penal code law states the following:

  1. Age of Consent– The age of consent is a minimum of 18 years old.
  2. Prosecution Discretion– Prosecutors have the discretion to dismiss or reduce charges against certain teens involved in consensual relationships.
  3. Minimum Age Difference– The age gap between the two individuals must be less than 3 years.
  4. No Prior Criminal History– Parties involved cannot have any prior criminal history in order to be eligible for the law’s protection.
  5. No Force or Coercion– The relationship must be consensual and without any force or coercion.
  6. Reporting Requirements– Individuals are to report their relationship with a sexual partner to their parents or school officials.
  7. Definition of Relationship: The California Romeo and Juliet law may apply to those who are dating, engaged, or married.
  8. Impact On Prosecution: California allows for defense against certain charges. Only if the accused can prove that the other person was a willing partner and that the relationship was consensual.
  9. Penalty Reductions: The penalty for rape can get reduced or eliminated if the Romeo and Juliet law applies.
  10. Exceptions: California has exceptions to the Romeo and Juliet law (i.e. if the accused was in a position of authority over the other person).

This is not a new law.

The Romeo and Juliet law was passed in 2016 in California.

How Does The Romeo And Juliet Law Work In California?

In order to be eligible for the Romeo and Juliet Law, the couple must meet certain criteria:

  • both partners must be over the age of 14
  • the older partner must meet the 3 years age gap requirement for California
  • both partners must be in a consensual relationship

This means that they both:

  • willingly agreed to the relationship
  • did not feel coerced or forced into it

If these criteria are met, then the couple may be able to avoid criminal charges.

They will need to file a petition with the court.

The court will determine whether the couple can get exempted from the charges.

If the court agrees, then the couple will be able to avoid criminal charges.

The Romeo and Juliet Law does not provide a blanket exemption from all sex-related crimes.

So it is important to review all the case details before filing a petition.

How To File A Petition In California For Romeo And Juliet Laws

Let’s say you are a minor facing criminal charges for having consensual sex with another minor.

You may be eligible for relief under the Romeo and Juliet Laws in California.

It is important to understand the process for filing a petition for the Romeo and Juliet Law.

These steps are an overview of the steps you should take to file a successful petition.

And to have your statutory rape charges dropped or reduced.

  1. Contact a criminal defense attorney in California. They can provide you with advice about your legal rights and options. (Fill out the form on this page to get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer.)
  2. Research the specific Romeo and Juliet Law in California. Make sure you understand the eligibility criteria and any other relevant information.
  3. Gather the necessary paperwork and information. This includes a copy of the criminal complaint, police reports, witness statements, and other relevant information.
  4. Draft a petition for the Romeo and Juliet Law. This document should include your name, date of birth, the date and location of the offense, and a description of the facts of the case.
  5. Submit the petition to the court. You will need to file the petition in the county where the offense occurred or the county where you live.
  6. Attend the court hearing. The court will consider the evidence and arguments presented by both sides when making a decision.
  7. Wait for a decision. The court will decide whether to grant the petition. If the petition is granted, the charges against you may be dropped or reduced.

What Is The Purpose Of Romeo And Juliet Laws?

The purpose of the Romeo and Juliet Law protects:

  • young people who engage in consensual sexual activity
  • people who are close in age to each other

They protect young people from getting charged:

  • with a crime that carries a harsh criminal penalty
  • for engaging in consensual sex with someone who is close in age

These laws serve to protect young people from being unfairly charged.

They provide an opportunity for young people to learn from their mistakes.

And without facing harsh criminal penalties.

Additionally, these laws recognize that young people often make mistakes.

And that the criminal justice system shouldn’t get used as a tool to punish them for mistakes.

These laws provide fairness to young adults who engage in consensual sexual activity.

Romeo and Juliet laws recognize that the two scenarios shouldn’t get treated the same:

  • two young people who are close in age and engaging in consensual sex
  • an adult who engages in non-consensual sex with a minor

What Is The Legal Age Of Consent In California?

The legal age of consent in California is 18.

The age of consent is the legal age at which an individual is allowed to engage in sexual activity.

Here are some key points to consider for the age of consent laws in California:

  1. The age of consent applies to both males and females.
  2. Even if two people are of the same age, the age of consent still applies when they are engaging in sexual activity.
  3. The age of consent is the same regardless of the gender of the individuals involved (same-sex or opposite-sex couples).
  4. A person is not able to consent to sexual activity if they are below the age of consent (18 in California).
  5. The age of consent does not reflect maturity or readiness for sexual activity. Instead, it is a way to protect teens from exploitation from a slightly older person.
  6. Let’s say an individual gets found to have engaged in sexual activity with a person who is below the age to legally consent. This could result in criminal charges getting filed against the individual.
  7. There are cases where the age of consent is the same for both parties. And engaging in sexual activity with someone below the age of consent can still be illegal.

Defenses Against California Romeo And Juliet Law Charges

Let’s say you are facing charges involving a Romeo and Juliet law in California.

It’s important to know that there is legal defense available.

These laws protect young people close in age from getting charged with certain sex crimes.

These laws make sure that young people who have consensual sex are not labeled as criminals.

Common defenses against criminal charges here are:

  • the two people involved were both of legal age
  • the couple was not actually engaging in sexual activity or sexual intercourse
  • the couple was actually married
  • there was no criminal intent

The relationship must not have involved:

  • force or coercion
  • any type of intercourse
  • any other criminal charges

Prosecutors can prove the relationship got forced or coerced by presenting evidence of:

  • of threats
  • intimidation
  • manipulation
  • other forms of coercion

They may also present evidence of:

  • physical force or violence
  • testimonies from witnesses that could show the relationship was not consensual

Criminal defense attorneys need to prove there was not any sexual activity.

This could include:

  • testimonies from the individuals involved
  • evidence of communication between the individuals
  • any other corroborating evidence

Communication evidence could include:

  • emails
  • text messages
  • social media messages
  • letters

Corroborating evidence could include:

  • witness testimony
  • recordings
  • photographs

Let’s look at some examples of force or coercion.

For threats, examples are threatening to:

  • hurt someone
  • spread rumors or secrets about someone
  • hurt or damage someone’s property

For intimidation, examples are:

  • physically looming over someone in a threatening manner
  • verbally belittling someone to make them feel inferior
  • making threatening gestures or facial expressions

For manipulation, examples are:

  • telling someone that they are not good enough unless they comply
  • pleading with someone to do something they don’t want to do
  • taking advantage of someone’s emotional vulnerabilities

For coercion, examples are:

  • giving someone an ultimatum that they comply or face negative consequences
  • using financial leverage to get someone to do something they don’t want to do
  • offering rewards or incentives in exchange for compliance with a request

Criminal Charges For Romeo And Juliet Laws In California

The criminal charges that California Romeo And Juliet Laws can protect you from are:

  • statutory rape charges
  • sex crimes
  • sexual assault
  • sexual exploitation
  • contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • lewd and lascivious conduct
  • indecency with a child

You can get hit with other sex-related crimes besides rape if the other party is underage.

With any of these, you could be facing a:

  • first-degree felony
  • second-degree felony
  • third-degree felony

And you’ll become a registered sex offender via the criminal procedure.

Fill out the form on this page to chat with our law office.

We know how to apply the California penal code of these laws to protect you.

Keep reading to learn more.

Statutory Rape Charges

Statutory rape charges involving minors:

  • is a serious offense (i.e., felony charges)
  • are the most common charge in such a scenario

It is considered statutory rape if:

  • there is any sexual relationship between a young adult and a minor
  • the young adult is at least 3 years older than the minor
  • the minor a child younger than the age of consent

This could be an 18-year-old having sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old, for example.

Statutory rape is considered a felony crime. 

Remember that it involves sexual activity with a person who is legally unaware to consent.

These laws provide:

  • protection for minors engaging in consensual underage sex
  • that a defendant who is close in age to the minor will not get prosecuted

But the protections only take effect if both parties:

  • are close in age
  • willingly take part in the activity

In some cases, a defendant may still face criminal charges and be aggressively prosecuted.

But they would be subject to less harsh penalties.

This is compared to those who commit other types of sexual activity with a minor.

Minors and parents need to understand their local laws in California.

For statutory rape, penalties can include:

  • one year up to life in prison
  • fines
  • having to register as a sex offender

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes with minors:

  • are among the most serious crimes
  • carry the harshest penalties

The age of consent is a determining factor for sexual misconduct between adults and minors.

The Romeo & Juliet laws provide an affirmative defense to prosecution in certain cases.

Let’s say that two people are close in age.

And the adult engages with a minor with an age gap that’s more than 3 years.

The adult may not get prosecuted for certain sexual offenses.

But, even in states with Romeo & Juliet laws, any sexual activity with minors is still illegal.

And they can still result in criminal charges.

So, it is important to be aware of the laws in California.

As the consequences of a sex crime conviction with a minor can be severe.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any sexual contact or behavior occurring without explicit consent.

This includes any other form of sexual activity to which one has not consented, like:

  • rape
  • attempted rape
  • unwanted sexual touching
  • forced sexual activity

Examples of sexual assault include:

  • any unwanted sexual contact, such as kissing, fondling, or penetration
  • non-consensual digital penetration (a.k.a. “cyber-rape”)
  • sexual coercion, such as threats to harm or take away something of value unless the victim engages in sexual activity
  • sexual contact with a person who is unable to give consent due to age, disability, or incapacitation

The legal consequences of a sexual relationship between two minors can be severe.

A minor can get charged with sexual assault depending on the:

  • ages of the individuals involved
  • nature of the sexual relations (i.e., consensual)

Let’s say an 18-year-old is with a 15-year-old.

Or that a 16-year-old is with a 14-year-old or 13-year-old.

In either case, the older person could get charged with sexual assault.

This could land the person with:

  • jail time
  • fines
  • probation
  • getting listed on the sex offender registry

This is why California has passed Romeo and Juliet Laws.

They protect minors who are close in age from criminal charges.

Besides criminal charges, the “sexual offender” could also:

  • get ordered to pay restitution to the alleged victim
  • face civil lawsuits from the parents of the alleged victim
  • lose employment opportunities
  • lose child custody rights (even later in life)

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is any sexual activity that exploits a minor.

Usually, for the sexual gratification of an adult.

This can include things like:

  • child pornography
  • prostitution
  • human trafficking

It is typically a felony crime, and the penalties can vary depending on the circumstances.

Sexual exploitation charges involving minors get taken very seriously.

Sexual exploitation involved taking advantage of a minor from:

  • an adult
  • an older minor

California Romeo and Juliet laws protect older minors from sexual exploitation charges.

But they do not provide protection if there is evidence of coercion or force.

Depending on the severity of the offense, someone could face:

  • decades in prison
  • getting barred from certain areas and activities

Getting barred means you’re not allowed to do things like:

  • working with children
  • volunteering in the community

Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a criminal charge.

It applies to older minors or adults.

You’ll get charged if you engage in activities with a minor that get considered:

  • illegal
  • inappropriate

You could face:

  • misdemeanor charges
  • felony charges
  • jail time
  • probation
  • fines

The charges can get used to enhance other criminal charges such as:

  • sexual assault
  • child endangerment

Lewd and Lascivious Conduct

Lewd and lascivious conduct describes sexual contact between people that is:

  • socially inappropriate
  • offensive

It can include activities such as

  • exposing oneself in public
  • engaging in sexual activities with minors
  • sexual touching
  • engaging in sexual activities with someone unable to consent

Lewd and lascivious conduct with minors carries heavy legal penalties.

Romeo and Juliet laws:

  • have a cut-off for the age gap between two people
  • need the offender to be a certain age

For lewd or lascivious acts, penalties can range from:

  • a misdemeanor charge (up to one year in prison)
  • a felony charge (up to five years in prison)

Indecency With A Child

Indecency with a child is a charge that applies to any sexual contact or communication.

This can include:

  • touching
  • sexual intercourse
  • other activities considered inappropriate by the state

This charge is a serious criminal offense and may result in:

  • jail time
  • fines
  • probation
  • sex registry registration

Romeo and Juliet laws can reduce the charges to a misdemeanor.

Sex Offender Registration

Sex offender registration is a legal rule for those convicted of sex offenses.

These individuals will get ordered to register as sex offenders.

This is a consequence that can have long-lasting repercussions on their lives.

Registration as a sex offender often carries social stigma and restrictions on:

  • employment
  • travel
  • the right to vote
  • what locations you’re allowed be at or around

It is crucial for those accused of a sex offense involving a minor to understand their legal rights.

And the potential consequences of their actions.

FAQs About Romeo And Juliet Law In California

Here are some common questions that we get asked. 

Can A 16-Year-Old Date An 18-Year-Old?

It is generally legal for a 16-year-old to date an 18-year-old.

The relationship cannot be sexual.

It’s illegal to have sexual relations with a 15-year-old if you’re 18.

California does not impose laws on the ages that you can date.

But, they impose laws on the age of consent and sexual conduct between 15 and 18 year olds.

Can A 15-Year-Old Date An 18-Year-Old?

It is generally legal for a 15-year-old to date an 18-year-old.

The relationship cannot be sexual.

It’s illegal to have sexual relations with a 15-year-old if you’re 18.

California does not impose laws on the ages that you can date.

But, they impose laws on the age of consent and sexual conduct between 15 and 18 year olds.

Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing sex crime charges, fill out the form on this page to talk to us today.

Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience you need to defend your rights.

This way, you don’t:

  • get wrongfully convicted
  • spend decades in jail needlessly
  • never see your family or loved ones again
  • get wrongfully accused by police officers

You deserve a fair trial in the criminal justice system.

Our California law firm can provide you with that.

(And you get a free consultation.)

Talk soon.

Get A FREE Consultation!

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