This article has been written by Nikunj Arora of Amity Law School, Noida. This article provides a detailed analysis of Romeo and Juliet Laws in the United States of America. The article also explains the terms ‘age of consent’ and ‘statutory rape’ with reference to Romeo and Juliet Laws. 

It has been published by Rachit Garg.


Several laws relating to the age of consent have been enacted to prevent minors from being sexually exploited by older partners. The basic assumption behind this hypothesis is that minors lack the cognitive capability to differentiate between true and false cues from adults and that this risk increases as age differences between partners increase. Unlike adults, juveniles have a limited ability to consent to sexual advances from adults due to differences in physical, cognitive, and social power. It is irrelevant whether or not an adult intends to manipulate a minor or such a minor perceives consent to sex. Age of consent laws asserts that sex cannot occur within certain age restrictions. As a result, every state has laws setting a minimum age for consenting to sex. The age difference between partners may also be established by some states as a consent factor prior to a sexual encounter being declared a crime. Those who violate these statutes may be charged with statutory rape. The United States has seen thousands of arrests and prosecutions resulting from the violation of statutory rape laws. In general, the public has supported the enforcement of these laws, even when there is a significant age difference between the victim and the offender.

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Despite its importance, statutory rape remains understudied. Most Americans are in favour of prosecuting older adults who are involved in sexual relationships with minors, regardless of whether either party believes in consenting to it. There is a concern, however, that the expansive definitions contained within these laws have prompted the involvement of the justice system in the lives of similarly aged teenagers who engage in relatively normal sexual activities, so-called ‘Romeo and Juliet’ relationships. This, in turn, calls into question the legitimacy of national policies, such as the registration of sex offenders, because it assumes that the registries would likely contain the types of cases that may not reflect the intent of legislatures and the public. Despite the importance of these debates, few studies have been conducted to assess the prevalence of Romeo and Juliet instances in official crime statistics or to assess age differences between victims and perpetrators in statutory rape. This article discusses Romeo and Juliet Laws in the United States of America.

What is the Romeo and Juliet Law

In the U.S., it is fairly common for teenagers who are to have sexual relationships. A data from the United States shows that an estimated 55% of male and female teens have had sexual intercourse by age 18 replaced with a percentage from the data the above looks apt to me . A 2013 surveillance study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found that 46.8% of juveniles had experienced sexual activity in their lifetime, 15% had four or more partners, and 34% had engaged in sexual activity in the past three months. In addition, a national probability sample reveals that approximately half of the sexually active adolescents say their first partner was at least 3 years older than them.

Although sexual encounters between teenagers within close proximity occur frequently, and most youths believe them to be consensual, it does not imply that they are free from exploitation. The most popular opinion polls show that most adults in the United States, and quite a few other western countries, believe that the sexual behaviour of teenagers is almost always inappropriate and unethical.

A controversy about the potential criminalization of teenagers engaging in consensual sex close in age is illustrated by the tendency of scholars, courts, and policymakers to refer to such cases as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ cases. The term “Romeo and Juliet,” which refers to criminalized sexual encounters of this nature, appeared first in the academic literature by Huffman and Huffman (1987), who traced more than a century of concern, expressed primarily through pop culture, about the criminalization of such encounters.

Many decades later, the term was formally used in legal debates and legislation throughout the United States. Romeo & Juliet was first used in this context by academicians 40 years ago. In 2007, Florida legislators referred to Romeo & Juliet while debating reforms concerning sex offender registration prompted by the Adam Walsh Act and The Florida Senate, 2011. There was concern expressed by some legislators in this case regarding the Adam Walsh Act’s requirement to register high school students engaged in consensual relationships with adults close in age instead of what many saw as the intended user population of such registries, those deemed too dangerous and likely to re-offend to remain unmonitored.

In states with Romeo and Juliet laws, the law provides exceptions or defences to a statutory rape charge. Typically, Romeo and Juliet’s laws apply when the accused and the victim are close in age. For this reason, these laws are often called ‘close-in-age exceptions’. In states with Romeo and Juliet laws, the law may provide several protections for the defendant. These protections can include:

  • Dropping the statutory rape charges,
  • Eliminating mandatory sex-offender registration,
  • Reducing the charge from a felony to a misdemeanour offence,
  • Reducing the penalties applied for a statutory rape conviction, and
  • Allowing the defendant to seek an expungement.

Laws governing Romeo and Juliet deal with the issue of consensual sex between teens and young adults. In the past, young adults would have been accused of statutory rape when participating in a relationship or having sexual relations with someone under the legal age of consent. Romeo and Juliet’s laws generally reduce or eliminate the statutory rape sentence in many instances, although the laws differ from state to state. Some states have laws that include Romeo and Juliet clauses as part of their statutory rape laws. It pertains to cases in which two people of similar age, one of whom is under the age of legal consent, engage in consenting sexual relations. Romeo and Juliet’s laws vary by state, though most allow a maximum age difference of five years between partners. The laws of each state determine which criminal charges if any, might apply to each case. They may include the following:

  • Situations where charges are reduced from felonies to misdemeanours.
  • Situations where penalties for the charges have been reduced.
  • To allow a defendant to have his record expunged after completing his sentence.
  • Reduce the length of time a sex offender must remain on the sex offender registry or remove the requirement for the perpetrator to register as a sex offender.

Age of consent

The purpose of early statutory rape laws in the 1200s was to protect young women from chastity. They were originally meant to protect only females. They were not meant to address the problems that men and boys face. The main intent was to protect girls, rather than to understand and prevent childhood trauma and abuse. Most Western countries, by the 1880s, had established an age of consent of around 12 or 13 years of age. As time progressed, this increased to around 14 or 15 years of age in Europe and 16 or 17 years of age in North America, largely as a result of the burgeoning feminist movements and public opposition to prostitution.

In the 1970s, feminists were advocating sexual liberation for young females as well as gender equality in rape laws. Consequently, language was altered to be more gender-neutral, making it applicable to both men and women. Despite this, the law was still limited to heterosexual conduct, thus excluding countless cases of young boys being abused by older men, for example. The subject of teen pregnancy became a focal point of debate a few decades ago due to an increase in teen pregnancy rates. This has led to a change in the purpose behind the enforcement of such laws. In today’s world, age of consent decrees are enacted in order to protect vulnerable minors, who are at risk, from sexual exploitation. Within the United States, the age of consent varies between 16 and 18 years of age but differs in other nations. Despite the existence of consent laws for over 800 years, the one constant is that they are inconsistent.

The exploitation of children is a real and present problem, and as with so many others, it has only gotten worse. The list of crimes involving children is endless, including forced labour, sex trafficking, and coercion to produce child sexual abuse material. These areas of concern are, therefore, covered by a wide range of laws designed to protect children. The issue of the age of consent is one of the most complex situations, both in regards to sex and marriage. It is important to note that in the U.S., these laws vary considerably from state to state and there may be different exceptions and caveats in various jurisdictions.

It is generally accepted in America that any sexual activity with children younger than a certain age is essentially coercive by nature, even if both parties consented since children are not legally capable of consenting.

It is important to take into account a variety of factors. Age of consent refers to the age at which a person is considered legally capable of consenting to sexual contact under any circumstances. The other is the age of the victim, which refers to the age at which,  a person cannot consent to sexual relations, under any circumstances. Some states also take into account the age difference between the victim and the perpetrator or defendant. There are also other factors that may be considered, such as the age of the two parties at the time the sexual relationship began.

As an example, in Pennsylvania, a child younger than 13 cannot consent legally to any sexual act (this is the minimum age). Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 are not permitted to participate in sexual activities with anyone four or more years older than them (in this case, the age differential comes into play). A consenting individual must be 16 years of age or older to engage in sexual activity. However, there is no official list of the age of consent of different states or statutory rape laws.

Federal law on age of consent

The federal law (U.S. Code: Title 18) have the following Sections related to the age of consent:

Chapter 117, 18 U.S.C. 2422(b)

The purpose of Section 2422(b) is to exempt the use of the interstate or foreign means of communication, such as telephone calls or using the internet, from being used for the purpose of persuading or enticing a minor (defined as a person under the age of 18 throughout this Chapter), to participate in a criminal sexual act. The act must be illegal under state or federal law to constitute a crime under 2422(b), and can be applied even when both parties reside within the same state but use an instant messaging program whose servers are located elsewhere.

Chapter 117, 18 U.S.C. 2423(a)

According to Section 2423(a), it is against the law to transport underage minors in interstate or foreign commerce with the intention of engaging in criminal sexual acts which can be prosecuted. There is an apparent ambiguity to this Section because it seems to apply only if the minor is transported across state or international lines to an area where illegal conduct is already prohibited.

Chapter 117, 18 U.S.C. 2423(b)

A violation of Section 2423(b) includes engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor while travelling interstate or outside the country; this is considered one form of sexual tourism. Specifically, the definition of ‘illicit sexual conduct’ as it relates to non-commercial sexual activity is outlined in Section 2423(f).

Chapter 109A, 18 U.S.C. 2243(a)

Section 2243(a) of Chapter 109A is the only provision that applies when considering the age of consent. The provisions of Section 2243(a) apply in cases where the younger person is under 16 years old and has attained 12 years of age, and the older person is more than four years older. If a person’s age is within four years of the 12-to-15-year-old’s age range, they are considered 12 years of age, otherwise, they are considered 16 years of age. In addition, citizens and residents of the United States outside of the country are also covered by this law.

Article 120b of the U.S. Code: Title 10 defines the age of consent as sixteen years but permits an exemption for people married to 12- to 15-year-old minors. It applies to essentially only members of the United States Armed Services and enemy prisoners of war. If the minor is over 12 years of age, there is a mistake-in-age defence, while if the minor is under that age, there is no such defence. The local state law of the United States is further applicable to United States military personnel while off base. In most cases, local state laws are incorporated into federal law when deployed in accordance with the Assimilative Crimes Act. For acts committed off-post, United States service members are also subjected to the local criminal law of the host nation if the relevant status of forces agreement applies.

Role of age of consent in Romeo and Juliet Laws

Romeo and Juliet’s legislation does not exist in every US state. Some states set a minimum age for consent over a Romeo and Juliet law. In the case where a person engages in consensual sex before that age, regardless of how close in age the parties are, they have committed a crime.  In accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, both heterosexual and homosexual sodomy became legal in all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and territories (between non-commercial, consenting adults in private).

As in the case of State v. Limon (2005), the Supreme Court of Kansas used the above-mentioned case of Lawrence as a precedent to overturn the Romeo and Juliet proscriptions, which allowed heterosexual acts to receive a lesser penalty than homosexual acts committed by people who are of the same age as the perpetrator.

The minimum age for consent in the majority of states does not have a uniform definition but rather varies depending upon the minimum age of the younger party, the minimum age of the older party, or the difference in age. However, some states have one standard age for consent. Approximately, thirty states in the United States have laws that allow sexual activity between persons who are close in age. These laws are referred to as ‘Romeo and Juliet laws’ because they allow sexual activity between persons of similar ages. 

Other states have provisions that reduce penalties if the parties are in close proximity in terms of age, or even provide an affirmative defence if the parties are in close proximity in terms of age. In spite of the fact that state laws regarding the general age of consent and age gap laws may differ, it is common for individuals in the United States to assume that sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18 constitutes statutory rape.

Statutory rape

As the name implies, statutory rape is an act of performing sex with a child under the legal age of consent. Usually, this term is used to describe instances where adults have sex with children, but it can also be used in other circumstances depending on the state’s laws. There are many jurisdictions that impose severe statutory rape penalties when an adult has consented to the act. For example, a 16-year-old boy, named Daniel and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Lisa, live and attend school in Texas. Generally, consent for sex is granted at the age of 17, but Texas’ Rome and Juliet law (Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code 22.011) allows a three-year gap if one party has reached a majority. Although Lisa is not of consenting age, the two-year age difference between them allows the sexual activity to proceed. Nevertheless, if Daniel had been 18, he could have been liable for statutory rape if the age difference had been four instead of three.

Laws against rape arose from the concern of protecting the chastity of young girls in order to enable them to get married. Due to this, historically, statutory rape laws only punished males who committed sexual acts with younger females. Statutory rape laws have evolved significantly over time. In general, statutory rape laws today are designed to protect young people from being victimized by older, more experienced (and potentially predatory) people, irrespective of their gender. The majority of states have made rape (and other forms of rape) laws gender-neutral by replacing gender-specific terms with gender-neutral terms. Now, both males and females are protected by statutory rape laws. The prosecution may also charge a female with statutory rape of a male, and they may also charge one or both individuals in a same-sex relationship with statutory rape.

Penalties for statutory rape

Despite the fact that teen and young adult sex is often consensual, statutory rape is a serious crime that has lasting consequences. A statutory rape charge can range from a misdemeanour to a felony, resulting in punishments of varying severity. This varies across different states and under different circumstances. Statutory rape is generally punished with fines, probation and community service, or it can lead to prison time of one year or more. State laws may require the perpetrator to register as a sex offender in some circumstances. In states with Romeo and Juliet laws and if certain conditions are met, penalties for statutory rape may be reduced.

Sex offenders registry

Individuals convicted of statutory rape may be required by some states to register as sex offenders. When an offender is registered, their name appears publicly on a list. States maintain their own registries, but the US Department of Justice keeps a combined list of each state’s registries. Searches can be conducted through the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOPW), irrespective of the state in which the crime was committed. It is important to note that registered sex offenders are subject to certain restrictions, including keeping a considerable distance from schools and other locations frequented by children. As soon as the offender is registered as a sex offender, he is required to check in at certain intervals, and to notify the authorities of his move. Each state has adopted Romeo and Juliet laws which aim to deal with the issue of young consenting couples being prosecuted and labelled as sex offenders for life.

Romeo and Juliet laws and statutory rape

In cases of statutory rape, Romeo and Juliet’s laws apply if both the parties involved are teenagers. Areas governing Romeo and Juliet generally stipulate a specific age difference between the older accused and the younger teenager. The exact age difference varies from state to state in the US. The Romeo and Juliet laws cannot prevent a rapist, who is a teenager, from facing criminal charges, if he violates the statutory rape laws. Most states require statutory rapists to register as sex offenders. The sex offender registration destroys any chance these teenage citizens have of advancing in life after committing a sex crime. It is the purpose of statutory rape laws to protect adolescents from being sexually exploited by older people who use their position of authority and age to get their way.

The majority of Romeo and Juliet statutes allow defendants to assert an affirmative defence against their charges. Romeo and Juliet’s laws also lower the punishment for statutory rape defendants. The Romeo and Juliet law also makes exceptions for teenagers convicted of statutory rape to register as sex offenders. Romeo and Juliet’s laws are meant to provide judicial discretion necessary to make statutory rape laws more equitable by validating the existence of the laws. Those opposed to Romeo and Juliet laws claim that the provisions do not go far enough in ensuring equality. In principle, they cannot incarcerate a teenage statutory rape offender at all. The very conception of a statutory rape law could be considered a victimless crime since there is no force involved in most sex crimes. In essence, Romeo and Juliet’s laws represent a compromise between the two sides in the statutory rape debate.

The majority of states embraced gender-neutral language when they revised their rape statutes, including their definitions, punishments, exceptions, and defences. State governments rewrote all gender-specific terminology and replaced it with gender-neutral terminology, with the exception of a few states like New York, California, etc. The Romeo and Juliet laws, which were specific to opposite-sex relationships, were restricted in some states. In Romeo and Juliet laws, statutory rape charges are exempted from, or reduced in situations where two or more young people, close in age, consent to a sexual relationship, such as teens aged 17 and 18. It should be noted that Romeo and Juliet’s laws indicate that these close-in-age relationships either do not constitute a crime under statutory rape laws or result in lesser charges such as misdemeanours rather than felonies.

The Romeo and Juliet laws of a few states, including Alabama, Kansas, and Texas did not extend to people in opposite-sex relationships. Consequently, people in same-sex relationships were punished more severely in these states. The Alabama law was amended and Kansas’ law was found to be unconstitutional, however, the Texas law is unchanged since February 2022. In 2019, the Alabama Legislature repealed the language that was limiting the protections afforded under Romeo and Juliet to relationships involving individuals of the opposite sex. A Romeo and Juliet defence in Texas [Tex. Penal Code § 21.11(b)] continues to be limited to consensual sexual encounters between people who are no more than three years apart in age and of opposite sexes.

This Texas law is similar to that which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional and discriminatory in the case of State v. Limon (already discussed above). Under Kansas’s statutory rape law, if the person accused is no older than 19 years of age and no older than four years of age than the underage victim, the crime is significantly reduced. This reduction of criminal charges is only available to individuals in opposite-sex relationships. Consequently, individuals in same-sex relationships would face more serious penalties for the same conduct. [Kan. Stat. § 21-3522 (2004)] [renumbered § 21-5507 (2019))]  It was found unconstitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court in the above-mentioned case because it treated same-sex conduct differently than opposite-sex conduct. In extending the Romeo and Juliet protection to same-sex relationships, the Court deleted from the legislation the terms ‘and are members of the opposite sex’. Considering how the Kansas Romeo and Juliet law turned out, the Texas law could also be challenged in court. Nonetheless, the law is still in effect.

Romeo and Juliet law for different states in the US


In Florida, the age of consent is 18. Florida law states that a person can legally consent to sexual activity at this age or above. The consent is attained at the age of 18 years of age, so any sexual activity with someone younger than 18 constitutes statutory rape. It should be noted, however, that there are a few exceptions to this rule, including the close-in-age provision and the Romeo and Juliet law in Florida, as per Fla. Stat. 794.05.

Consensual sex between two persons between the ages of 16 and 17 in Florida is not illegal because of the close-in-age provision. Under the Romeo and Juliet law, persons convicted of statutory rape will receive a sentence and be required to register as sexual offenders. The Romeo and Juliet law removes the requirement to register as a sex offender under certain circumstances. Under the law, a difference of age of 4 years is acceptable between an offender and an alleged victim. Following are the requirements for qualification under the Florida Romeo and Juliet law:

  • Under no circumstances must the victim be under the age of 13. 
  • An offender and victim cannot be older than four years apart and the sexual activity must be consensual.
  • A consensual sexual relationship is required.
  • This offender has no previous sex offence conviction that requires registration as a sex offender.

In order to qualify for Romeo and Juliet, offenders must provide written proof to the court. State attorneys and prosecutors must be informed 21 days before the sentencing date, disposition of the case, or hearing regarding the motion. It is the judge who decides whether to sentence, determine the offence, or hold an appeal hearing. Upon finding that the person meets the criteria, the judge will grant the request to exempt the individual from registering as a sex offender.


In Alaska, the law prohibits adults, over the age of 18, from having sex with minors, under the age of 16, even if the sex is consensual. A person who breaks this law is considered to be committed statutory rape. (Alaska Stat. Ann. §§ 11.41.434). There is a Romeo and Juliet exemption in Alaska for consensual sex between minors less than 4 years apart in age who are both at least 13 years old. Also included in this exception is consensual sexual contact between a minor (12 years) or younger and another minor younger than 16 years and not more than 3 years older. [Alaska Stat. Ann. § 11.41.442 (2018)]


The Romeo and Juliet exemption also applies to Alabama. It applies to consensual genital intercourse or sodomy, anal or oral sex, between a minor who is 12 years or older and a person, who shall be the defendant, less than two years older than the minor. [Ala. Code §§ 13A-6-60, 13A-6-62, 13A-6-64 (2019)]


In Arizona, the Romeo and Juliet law allows underage couples who are less than two years apart to have consensual sex. This applies to minors aged 15, 16, or 17. As a result, the Romeo and Juliet law protects a 15-year-old who engages in consensual sexual relations with a 17-year-old. Under the Romeo and Juliet law, defendants older than 18 but still in high school are protected, as long as they are not older than their partners by two years.

District of Columbia

The age of consent in the District of Columbia is 16 years old. The District Of Columbia does not allow people under 15 to participate in sexual activity, and anyone found to have participated in such activity may be prosecuted for statutory rape. A person violates the District Of Columbia’s statutory rape law when he or she has consensual sexual relations with a person under the age of 16. There are close in age exemptions (Romeo and Juliet Law) that allow minors to consent to partners who are less than 4 years older than them. As a result of the Romeo and Juliet exemption in the District of Columbia, qualifying close-in-age couples may be entirely exempt from the age of consent law, or may merely qualify for a legal defence in case prosecution is pursued.


There is a minimum age of consent of 18 years in Florida. The state of Florida does not allow individuals aged 17 and younger to consent to sexual activities, which may result in statutory rape charges. It is illegal for a person to have consensual sexual relations with a person under the age of 18. There are close-in-age exemptions, i.e., the Romeo and Juliet exemption that allows minors between the ages of 16/17 to engage in sexual relations with a partner not older than 23. 


The minimum age of consent in Georgia is 16 years old. Those under the age of 15 cannot legally consent to sexual activity in Georgia, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape. When a person has consensual sexual relations with someone under the age of 16 who is not their spouse, Georgia statutory rape law is violated. There is no Romeo and Juliet exemption in Georgia. 


There is a 16-year-old minimum age for consent in Hawaii. As a result, individuals who are 15 or younger are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and they can also be prosecuted for statutory rape if they engage in such behaviour. A person violates Hawaii’s statutory rape law when they have consensual sexual relations with a minor. The Romeo and Juliet exemption or the close-age exemption exists in Hawaii, and currently, these exemptions are for teens between the ages of 14 and 15 who consent to a relationship with a partner who is less than five years older than them.


A 16-year-old is considered to be the age of legal consent in Indiana. It is illegal in Indiana to consent to sexual activity for individuals under the age of 15, and such activity may result in a criminal charge for statutory rape.

If a person has consensual sexual relations with a minor under 16, they are in violation of Indiana statutory rape law. Teenagers aged 14 and 15 are allowed to consent to partners under 18 with a close in age exemption. In the case of a guardian, adoptive parent, grandparent, stepparent, child care worker, or military recruiter attempting to enlist the minor, consent is required at the age of 18. It is possible to defend against charges if the offender reasonably believed that the victim was over the age of 16, or if the offender and victim had been together for less than four years.


There is a 17-year-old age of consent in Louisiana. Louisiana laws prohibit consenting to sexual activity by persons under 16 years of age, and such behaviour can be prosecuted as statutory rape. Consensual sexual contact with an individual under 17 who is not your spouse is a violation of the Louisiana statutory rape law. There is no Romeo and Juliet exemption in Louisiana.


In Maine, 16 is the legal age of consent. In Maine, individuals under the age of 15 cannot consent to sexual activity, and such activity can result in statutory rape charges. It is illegal in Maine for someone to have consensual sexual relations with an individual under the age of 16 who is not their spouse without their consent. The close-in-age exemption (Romeo and Juliet exemption) allows a 14-15-year-old to consent to partners who are less than 5 years older.


There is a 16-year-old age of consent in Maryland. Those who are 15 or younger in Maryland are not legally permitted to consent to sexual activity, which could result in statutory rape charges. Having consensual sexual relations with an individual under the age of 16 violates Maryland’s statutory rape law. Depending on the difference in age between victim and offender, charges may differ. There is no Romeo and Juliet exemption in Maryland.


There is a 16-year-old age of consent in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, individuals under 15 are not legally competent to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may be prosecuted as statutory rape. If a person has consensual sexual relations with a person under 16 years of age, Massachusetts’ statutory rape law is violated. It is important to note that the age of consent is raised to 18 if the victim is of a chaste life and the offender induces them to have sexual relations. There is no Romeo and Juliet exemption in Massachusetts.


There is a 16-year-old age of consent in Michigan. Michigan law prohibits individuals under the age of 15 from consenting to sexual activity. Such activities may result in prosecution for statutory rape. It is illegal to have consensual sexual relations with an individual under 16, under Michigan’s statutory rape law. In the case of older parties who are authority figures, the consent age is raised to 18. Furthermore, teachers and students of any age may not engage in sexual relations. There is no Romeo and Juliet exemption in Michigan.


There is a 16-year-old age of consent in Mississippi. A person under 15 cannot legally consent to sexual activity in Mississippi, and such activity may result in statutory rape charges. A Mississippi statutory rape law violation occurs when a person has consensual sexual relations with an individual under 16 who is not their spouse. The Romeo and Juliet exemption exists in Mississippi. The close-in-age exemptions exist if the age gap between the parties is less than 36 months.

New Jersey

There is a 16-year-old age of consent in New Jersey. In New Jersey, minors under 15 are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, which may result in prosecution for statutory rape. When a person has consensual sexual intercourse with a minor, they are in violation of New Jersey’s statutory rape law. For minors between ages 13 and 15, the Romeo and Juliet exemption allows them to engage in sexual congress with a partner who is a minimum of 4 years older than them. In cases where the older partner is a parent, guardian, sibling, relative less than a fourth cousin, or an individual with some authority over the younger party, the consent age is raised to 18.


There are many states, including Texas, where teens and young adults regularly engage in consensual sex with adolescents their age or younger. Before the Romeo and Juliet law was created, these teens had no protection and could be punished as sex offenders with fines, jail time, and forced registration. However, Texas has now adopted Romeo and Juliet laws to address the situation in which two teens consent to the sexual practices involved in their relationship. The Romeo and Juliet law distinguishes this kind of situation from sexual assault and clearly defines them.

According to Texas Penal Code 22.011, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been described as an affirmative defence. In 2011, former Governor Rick Perry signed the statute into law, adding Texas to the growing list of states with Romeo and Juliet laws. At the present time, Texas is one of 24 states that offer such protections. Although the Romeo and Juliet law is in effect in Texas, age 17 is the youngest legal age of consent for both males and females to engage in sexual activity.

New York

In New York, the legal age of consent is 17. A person who is under the age of 17 legally cannot consent to sexual activity. Therefore, consent cannot be a defence in statutory rape proceedings. It is one of the few states that does not have any Romeo and Juliet laws. In other words, minors engaging in consensual sexual activity are not exempted from prosecution. Nevertheless, age differences are taken into account when deciding whether to charge someone with first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony statutory rape. In addition, juveniles are not required to register as sex offenders when tried and convicted.


A Romeo and Juliet law exists to protect minors and young people from being exploited or coerced by adults. A person who violates the Romeo and Juliet law can be charged with statutory rape or other related crimes. The law governing the age of consent may include a statutory rape provision in some states where violations may be prosecuted. A number of initiatives are pushing legislatures to adapt, modify, or change laws regarding the age of consent. Romeo and Juliet’s laws do not create legal grounds for sexual activity involving teenagers. These procedures exist to prevent potential offenders from being labelled sex offenders and from being forced into a sex offender registry. Only cases with a slight age difference between the two parties are included in the Romeo and Juliet law. In states with Romeo and Juliet laws, the age difference is determined by the age of consent. A Romeo and Juliet statute is different in each of the states in the US, but most states do not prosecute or limit the punishment for teenage consensual sex. A minimum age gap between young people participating in consensual sexual activity is set out in each statute as a means of establishing an exception to the statutory rape provision. As a matter of fact, we can work on this in India too.


What is Romeo and Juliet Law in California?

There is no Romeo and Juliet law in California but the government classifies and allocates penalties based on the age of the accused and the victim. However, it is possible for statutory rape penalties to be reduced when the accused and the victim are of a similar age.

Can a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old engage in sexual relations in Texas?

Texas’ Romeo and Juliet Law allow anyone between the ages of 14 and 17 to consent to sexual relations with someone younger than them by 3 years. Accordingly, under Texas law, a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old could have consensual sex without it being deemed a child sex offence. In the same way, a 14-year-old might have consenting sex with a 17-year-old.

What is the lowest age of consent in America?

The lowest age of consent in America is 16. The states’ laws differ, and the minimum age of consent in the United States is 16, and the maximum is 18 years old. From time to time, states do update their laws, including the age of consent. For example, from 2018 to 2019, Wyoming and New Mexico raised their age of consent from 16 to 17.

Who is a perpetrator?

A perpetrator is an individual who commits an illegal or criminal act.

Which of the US States have Romeo And Juliet Laws?

The following states have Romeo and Juliet laws of different types:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • West Virginia


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