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Loren, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 28523
Experience:  Former administrative hearing officer
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Hello, Can someone tell me if the Romeo and Juliet Law

Customer Question

   Can someone tell me if the "Romeo and Juliet Law" exists in Virgina? And how could I look that up or tell me the particulars of that law
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Loren replied 7 years ago.
Recent changes in the laws governing consensual sex between minors or an adult 18 years of age and a minor 14-16 years of age have acknowledged that this is not the same as molestation. The new laws, named “Romeo and Juliet laws” after Shakespeare’s tragic teenage lovers, attempt to correct overly harsh penalties and prison terms meted out over the years. In 2007, these laws went into effect in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana and Texas.

The age of consent laws in Virginia are a bit confusing:

The age of consent in Virginia is 18, with a close in age exception which allows teenagers aged 15, 16 and 17 to engage in sexual acts, but only with a partner younger than 18. However the legislation is not clear cut and the details are discussed below:

Any penetrative sexual act other than penile-vaginal intercourse is defined in Virginia law as 'sodomy.' Section 18.2-361 of the Code of Virginia entitled "Crimes against nature" states in part;

"If any person carnally knows in any manner any brute animal, or carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of ... felony..."
In addition, any sexual intercourse is defined in Virginia law as 'fornication.' Section 18.2-344 of the Code of Virginia entitled "Crimes against nature" states;

"Any person, not being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any other person, shall be guilty of fornication, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor."
The courts of Virginia have ruled that these statutes are not invalid under the US Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas since that case only applied to adults, and the age of majority in Virginia is 18. This means that those 18 and above involved in consensual activity in private may have a defense in court, but those under 18 do not.

Section § 18.2-63 of the Code refers to minors younger than 15, while § 18.2-371 is about 15, 16 and 17 years olds.

Section 18.2-63 states in part:

"If any person carnally knows, without the use of force, a child thirteen years of age or older but under fifteen years of age, such person shall be guilty of ... felony ... For the purposes of this section, (i) a child under the age of thirteen years shall not be considered a consenting child and (ii) "carnal knowledge" includes the acts of sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, analingus, anal intercourse, and animate and inanimate object sexual penetration."
Consensual sex where one partner is 15, 16 or 17 and the other is over 18 is a class 1 misdemeanor.

§ 18.2-371. Causing or encouraging acts rendering children delinquent, abused, etc.; penalty; abandoned infant. Any person 18 years of age or older, including the parent of any child, who (i) willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act, omission, or condition which renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected as defined in § 16.1-228, or (ii) engages in consensual sexual intercourse with a child 15 or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor

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