Romeo and Juliet Law
Sex crimes involving children are prosecuted harshly under Texas law. Most offenses are classified as felonies and are punishable by years of imprisonment and steep fines. Plus, there is the collateral consequence that extends well after penalties are met: the requirement to register as a sexual offender.
Thankfully, the state of Texas has provided exceptions to these punishments, such as the “Romeo and Juliet” statute. If you were arrested for a sex crime involving a minor, Texas’ Romeo and Juliet law may apply to the case. Retain a skilled defense attorney by contacting The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski today.
Austin Romeo and Juliet Law Attorney, TX
If you are facing charges under the Romeo and Juliet law in TX, it’s important to obtain assistance from an experienced legal professional. Austin sex crime defense attorney Jackson Gorski at The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski know Texas’s sex crime laws inside and out. He can work hard to obtain a reduction or dismissal of your charges.
The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in both Austin and Georgetown, TX but accepts clients throughout various counties including Williamson County, Bell County, Travis County, Bastrop County, Blanco County, Caldwell County, Hays County, Milam County, and Burnett County.
- Sex Crimes Involving Children Or Minors
- Age Of Consent
- Romeo And Juliet Law As An Affirmative Defense
- Belief Of Age
- Additional Resources
Texas may charge an individual with a sex crime involving a child if the individual commits any of the following:
- Sexual assault of a child
- Sexual performance by a child
- Electronic transmission of certain visual materials
- Online solicitation
- Indecency with a child
These are just a few of the sex crimes involving minors. There are other sex crimes involving minors that an officer may arrest the individual for committing. It’s in the individual’s best interest to understand elements of these charges and how Texas law defines “child” and “minor.” Although these terms are usually interchangeable, some statutes use the word “child” and others “minor.”
Under numeral two of Application of Law to Facts for Texas Criminal Pattern Jury Charges for CPJC 84.18, assaultive crimes, a “child” is someone who is younger than seventeen years old. However, various Texas penal codes define “child” differently. For example, under subsection (a)(1) of Texas Penal Code §43.24 for selling and distributing harmful materials to minors, a “minor” is someone who is under eighteen.
Each state has a different age of consent. In Texas, the supposed victim must meet certain conditions to consent to sexual activity. These conditions include consciousness, lack of force, and reaching the age of consent. The age of consent in Texas is seventeen. However, some crimes still make it illegal to engage in certain activities if the supposed victim is younger than eighteen.
Texas does not have a law titled “Romeo and Juliet.” Rather, it is an umbrella term for affirmative defenses that consider an individual’s closeness in age to the alleged victim’s age. How this defense applies depends on the specific penal code violation.
- Regarding §22.011, sexual assault, the individual cannot be more than three years older than the victim, and the victim must be at least fourteen years old.
- Regarding §43.25, sexual performance by a child, the individual cannot be more than two years older than the child, and the child must be at least eighteen years old.
- Regarding §43.261, electronic transmission of certain visual materials depicting a minor, the individual cannot be more than two years older or younger than the eighteen-year-old party, and the two must be dating during the time of transmission.
- Regarding §33.021, online solicitation of a minor, the individual cannot be more than three years older than the minor the individual believes to be at least seventeen, and the minor must consent.
- Regarding §21.11, indecency with a child, the individual cannot be more than three years older than the victim, and the victim must be at least seventeen years old.
This law also shields an individual from having to register as a sex offender.
Although an individual may raise the Romeo and Juliet law as an affirmative defense, there is another option for specific sex crimes. Some sex crimes that call for the alleged victim to be seventeen or older come with an inherent defense—the individual believes the person is at least seventeen years old. According to §33.021(1)(B), a minor can mean someone who the individual believes is under seventeen. Bear in mind that this sex crime of online solicitation of a minor is the only sex crime to consider the individual’s belief. The others listed above do not consider what the individual believed or reasonably knew.
Romeo & Juliet Defense Act: Ensuring Young LGBTQ+ People Receive Equal Treatment Under The Law – The Equality Texas’ is a nonprofit organization that focuses on utilizing the Romeo and Juliet defense to protect same-sex couples.
What Is The Age Of Consent For Sexual Activity In Texas? – The Texas State Law Library’s website lists sexual offenses where a Romeo and Juliet defense is applicable and under which age constrictions for the specific sex crime.
Georgetown Romeo and Juliet Law Attorney, TX
If you or a loved one has been arrested for committing a sex crime against a teenager, be sure to reach out to a knowledgeable attorney who can discuss all of your legal options. The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has years of experience in criminal law and can inform you of the Romeo and Juliet statute and how it may apply to your case.
Contact The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski today at 512-960-4646 by scheduling your first consultation free of charge. If you reside in Austin, Jollyville, Lockhart, Round Rock, Georgetown, Kyle, Lakeway, Cedar Park, Anderson Mill, Taylor, Canyon Lake, or Seguin, TX, allow Mr. Gorski to advocate on your behalf.