Romeo and Juliet laws should be common sense.
A Romeo and Juliet law says it is not always a crime to have consensual sex with a minor. But the guidelines are very specific. Texas, for example, has a Romeo and Juliet law. It states that a person:
- between the ages of 14 and 17 can consent,
- with someone within three years of their age,
- so long as the other consenting party is at least 14.
Sounds like common sense right? It prevents pedophiles or sexual predators and allows teenagers more freedom to do what they want. But a lot of states (including California the biggest state) does not have this law.
In California, under Penal Code 261.5 any person who engages in sexual intercourse with:
- a minor less than three years younger (or older) is guilty of a misdemeanor,
- a minor more than three years younger is guilty of a misdemeanor OR a felony,
- a minor under 16 when the accused is 21 or older is guilty of a misdemeanor OR a felony.
Without this law, it means that: Teenagers cannot lawfully have sex with each other. You might think that’s a good thing because teenage pregnancy is bad, but you can’t stop human nature; teenagers are hormonal beings who most likely are going through or have gone through puberty; you’re telling me that you’re trying to stop sex between them by making it illegal? It’s a futile thing, and all it does is punish them for being human beings with desires.
And if you’re a senior dating a freshman? good luck once you turn 18. You’ve effectively become a criminal at that point once you decide to have sex with your girlfriend.
Every state should have Romeo & Juliet laws; it makes no sense not to have it.