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“Romeo and Juliet” Laws in Texas

The eponymous Romeo and Juliet of the Shakespeare play were young, “star crossed” lovers. Despite their families and all of society being against their love, they pushed forward with their romance against all odds. “Romeo and Juliet” laws are designed to take consideration and compassion upon young lovers.

It’s fairly reasonable to assume that with all grades interacting in a high school, age gap relationships are bound to form. Freshmen and juniors can fall in love, and sophomores and seniors could do the same. In an attempt to give freedom to these young people, Texas has leniency in its statutory rape laws, provided that the couple is close enough in age.

The Three-Year Gap

From the ages of 14 to 17, consensual sex is forgivable between couples that are no more than three years apart. This means that a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old may copulate, as could a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old. The word “forgivable” is important in this context. Ultimately, anyone between 18-20 could still be convicted of statutory rape if they had sex with someone under 18. “Romeo and Juliet” laws protect the older party from the registered sex offender list, but not from a conviction.

Statutory Rape Allegations Within the “Romeo and Juliet” Gap

Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide whether or not to let the older party walk free. One of the key factors the defense needs to demonstrate is the consent of the younger party. This can be harder than it seems. If the younger of the two was 15 at the time of the intimacy, they may want to protect themselves from embarrassment or trouble at home. They may not want to appear in court, or, out of fear, they can claim that they did not consent. Prosecution can also argue that the older party was able to manipulate the younger into sex, even if it was consensual.

Courts are going to frown upon older parties in positions of authority. Even if the copulation took place within allowable age brackets, it will be easy for the prosecution to argue that the person in authority used their power to coerce the younger into sex. Even if direct coercion isn’t the accusation, the power imbalance can be seen as a way of “charming” or “tricking” the younger party.

There are no special protections given for sex with a minor 13 or younger. This will be classified under child abuse and sexual abuse laws without exception.

People who have been accused of sex crimes deserve their day in court. If you’re facing sex crime charges in Plano or Dallas, call us today at 888-4-ZEN-LAW or contact us online. We are here to listen, and we can help show the courts that you are innocent until proven guilty.

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