Romeo and Juliet Laws in California- IE-Criminal Defense

What are Romeo and Juliet laws?

Romeo and Juliet laws essentially state is not a crime to have consensual sex with a minor, who is under 18 years of age. Some states allow people who are over the age of 18, engage in consensual sexual intercourse with a minor, if the minor is at least within three years of age of the adult, is within 14-17 years old, and consents to the sexual intercourse. For example, under Romeo and Juliet laws, a 20 year old can lawfully engage in Sexual Intercourse with a 17 year old, and they would not be charges for Statutory Rape. In California, Statutory Rape is codified under PC 261.5.

This would not apply if, for example, a 14 year old were to engage in sexual intercourse with a 34 year old. Because they are not within three years of age, it would be crime on the 34 year old to engage in sexual intercourse with that minor. The purposes of these types of laws in other state is to decriminalize teenage sex.

Are there Romeo and Juliet Laws in California?

No. California does not subscribe to this old adage regarding age and consent. In California, the legal age to consent to having sexual intercourse, is 18, meaning an adult. Therefore, although a person many factually consent to sex at the age of 16, because they do not have ability to legally consent, their factual consent is irrelevant to charges of Statutory Rape.

It is also therefore illegal for any minor to engage in sex, even with that of another minor. The only exception to that is if the minors are married to each other. Though minors cannot be easily married unless granted permission from a Court. Minors engaging in consensual sex with other minors in California could, in rare circumstances, be charge criminally in Juvenile Court for Statutory Rape.

What if you did not know the other person was a minor?

If you are accused of Statutory Rape under PC 261.5, you are able to use the defense that you has a reasonable mistake as to believe the minor was over the age of 18. This can be found through context clues, such as the minor claiming they are over 18, you meet them maybe at a bar that requires people over 18 to enter, or through the minor’s own verbal statements.

This would act as a defense against a charge of Statutory Rape if you are accused.

Call Today

Many people have the misunderstanding of “Romeo and Juliet” laws and that they still apply in California. Because of this misunderstanding, many people get caught up and charged with Statutory Rape without knowing they committed a crime. This is important since not knowing that this isn’t a law in California, will not act as defense for you in your case. If you are found in this situation, you need an experienced Sex Crimes Attorney who will fight for you. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.