Named after Shakespeare’s young lovers, “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions are intended to prevent serious criminal charges against teenagers who engage in consensual sex with others close to their own age.
In Texas, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between a minor who 14, 15, 16, or 17, and someone who is three or fewer years older than the minor.
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In Texas, statutory rape includes sexual penetration and sexual contact between an adult and someone younger than 18.
The crime is broken into several categories, as explained below.
Indecency with a child includes sexual contact (sexual touching other than penetration, even over clothing, that is meant to arouse or gratify sexual desire) between a minor who is 17 or younger and a defendant who is three or more years older than the victim.
This offense is a second degree felony, and penalties include at least two (and up to 20) years in prison. Penal Code § 22.021, 22.011, & 22.11.) State law requires, in addition to the applicable fines and prison time, that people convicted of certain sexual crimes (including some instances of statutory rape) register as sex offenders.
But if Jen and Tony are and living in Texas, Tony need not fear criminal charges for having consensual sex with Jen.