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Shakespeare Has Nothing to Do With Romeo and Juliet in Florida

shutterstock_146465225Almost 10 years ago, Florida enacted a law that is commonly referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet” law. The purpose of the law is to allow young convicted sexual offenders the ability to avoid lifetime inclusion on the sex-offender registry. This allowance is only for those who have been convicted of sex crimes on the basis of a consensual relationship.

Many people mistakenly believe that this law created a near-age defense to sex crimes. It does not. Sexual activity with a minor is still illegal. What the law does is allow those convicted of some crimes to not be forced to include themselves on the lists that designate sexual predators or sexual offenders. These registration requirements can have devastating consequences on someone’s life.

There are requirements for a person convicted of a sex crime to be considered under the Romeo and Juliet law. These requirements are:

  • The conviction was for sexual battery or a lewd and lascivious offense;
  • The crime involved consensual sex with a minor between the ages of 14 and 17;
  • The minor involved was no more than four years younger than the defendant when the sexual encounter occurred;
  • Registration on the sexual offender or predator registry is a result of only this conviction;
  • There are no other convictions for sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious offense, or lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer.

The four-year window is strictly interpreted by Florida. A birthday must be within four years. If a defendant is even a single day past the eligibility requirement, the Romeo and Juliet law does not apply.

Persons who were convicted before the law was enacted may petition the court for removal from the sexual offender or predator registry. The offender must petition for removal in the county in which they were convicted. It is important to note that even if a person qualifies for removal, the decision is ultimately up to a judge’s discretion.

For example, a person who is 21 years old has sexual relations with a person who is 17 years old. The pair’s birthdays are within a four year window. While the adult may be convicted of sexual battery or a lewd and lascivious act, they may no be required to be placed on the sexual offender registry for the rest of their lives. This is aimed to protect these individuals who may have committed a crime by the letter of the law, but in whose crime there was no unwilling victim.

Sexual crimes are considered very serious by Florida courts. Any person who has been arrested and accused of a sex crime should not take their situation lightly. Any person accused of a sex crime in Orlando should secure the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney.

If this is the situation you are facing, call our office. A member of our team will help you set up an appointment for a free case evaluation where we will advise you of the options available to you. Call now for assistance or browse our website for more information about our firm.

Find Out How Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You Katz & Phillips, P.A. works to try to keep your record clear and keep you out of jail, or to minimize the possible penalties of serious charges you face. To learn more, call today and speak with an experienced member of our legal team