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Depending on the state, Romeo and Juliet laws may reduce the severity of the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, reduce the penalty to a fine, probation, or community service, and/or eliminate the requirement that the convicted adult register as a sex offender.The following are just a few examples of Romeo and Juliet laws currently in place in the United States: Exceptions and Other Considerations In addition to Romeo and Juliet laws, some states have specific exemptions when both parties to the sexual act are minors, or the person to be charged is legally married to the minor.Whether you agree with this outcome or not, the fact remains that statutory rape is considered a serious crime, enforceable to the full extent of the law in many states – and can change the course of a teenager’s life forever.A Hot Topic Among Teens The recent discovery that 16-year-old actress Jamie Lynn Spears, the sister of pop star Britney Spears, became pregnant by her 18-year-old boyfriend has again turned consensual sex among teens into a hotly contested issue.
For the most part, there is no single age at which a person can consent to sexual activity.
Until recently, statutory rape laws applied only to females, ignoring situations involving sex between an adult female and underage male.
Today, most laws are gender neutral, and a number of women in authority positions (such as Mary Kay Letourneau, Debra Lafave, Pamela Rogers Turner, and Pamela Smart) have been prosecuted for engaging in sexual relationships with younger males. While many states have strict statutory rape laws on the books, prosecutors have been inconsistent in enforcing them, says Mark Chaffin, a researcher with the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth.
But do these dangers warrant laws that put young people in prison?
Romeo and Juliet Make a Comeback Statutory rape is defined by the FBI as non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is younger than the statutory age of consent.Only 12 states set a specific age (ranging from 16 to 18), while in the majority of states, the age of consent depends on multiple factors, including the ages of each partner and the number of years between them.