Forgotten Majority

Advocating for the just and humane treatment of those who are incarcerated.


What do these laws mean for teens?  Linda Lowen {} writes, “You Say Boyfriend – Some States Say Child Molester.”  When Shakespeare brought Romeo and Juliet to life, he was intentional in choosing two young characters as his protagonists.  Then as now, two teens having consensual sex is understandable.  But an adult molesting a child is reprehensible.  The difference between the two situations would seem obvious. But in many states in the U.S., legally speaking, there’s little distinction between Romeo and Juliet’s mutual decision and the abusive actions of a child molester.  An 18 or 19 year old who has sex with his 15 year old girlfriend can be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for the act.  Even worse, he may carry the stigma of being labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life. Romeo would also carry this stigma since it is believed that he was 16 yrs. old and Juliet, 13, when their relationship began – the selfsame Romeo and Juliet that will be hailed till the end of time as a Shakespearean classic. 

There is relief under the Romeo and Juliet Law for those convicted of sexual offenses when the age difference between consensual partners is 4 years or less. The Romeo and Juliet Law, passed in 2007, Florida Statute 943.04354 (Title XLVII Criminal Procedures and Corrections), addresses the removal of the requirement to register as a sexual offender or sexual predator in special circumstances.

Read blog “Romeo and Juliet Sexual Offender Laws (November 17, 2010)” on this site for more information.

References for this article

Link to Ages of Consent for all North American jurisdictions: