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Does Pennsylvania Have Romeo and Juliet Laws?

April 16, 2023

Young love is a wonderful and exciting thing. However, teenagers are at a confusing age. The law still views many of them as children, yet it’s not uncommon for teens to engage in adult behavior, such as becoming sexually active. When this is the case, it’s important both teenagers involved and their families understand consent laws in Pennsylvania. If these laws are violated, either Romeo or Juliet could face several years in prison.

Statutory Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania

In order to understand Romeo and Juliet laws, one must first understand the statutory sexual assault laws in Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes, Section 3122, statutory sexual assault occurs when one person has sexual relations with another person under the age of 16. This is the age of consent in the state. Anyone over the age of 16 can have consensual sex, as long as their partner is also over the age of 16 .

Force is not considered a factor in statutory sexual assault cases. In fact, many times the defendant doesn’t even realize they are breaking the law. However, the penalties for statutory sexual assault are severe. If the defendant is less than 11 years older than the victim, they could face second­ degree felony charges. If the defendant is more than 11 years older than the victim, they could potentially face first-degree felony charges, which hold sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

Statutory sexual assault is a, and one taken very seriously in Pennsylvania. There are though, exceptions within the statute, and the Romeo and Juliet law is one of them.

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Pennsylvania

So, what is the Romeo and Juliet Law? Romeo and Juliet laws are intended to protect two teenagers in a consenting sexual relationship. In order for the exception to apply, one individual must be at least 13 years old. Their partner cannot be more than four years older. For example, someone that is 14 years old can have sex with someone that is 16 years old, and that is not considered a crime.

However, when a minor is younger than 13, the Romeo and Juliet laws do not apply. It is illegal to have sex with anyone younger than 13, regardless of the age of the other person.

The statute also provides that the defense of mistaken age may apply in some cases. This defense involves simply stating that the defendant was not aware of the minor’s true age at the time they had sex. When this defense is properly proven, the defendant cannot be charged with a crime.

Charged With a Crime and Confused? Contact a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney

There are many instances in which someone is charged with statutory sexual assault and they are left wondering why they are being accused of committing a crime. Many defendants believe they were simply in a relationship with someone they care about. When that is the case, a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia can help.

At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we will provide you with the aggressive defense you need to fight the charges and retain your freedom. We have extensive experience with sexual assault cases and will use that experience to build a strong defense for your case. Don’t let these charges hang over your head for another minute. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 to learn more about PA Romeo and Juliet Law or fill out our online form so we can begin reviewing your case.


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