In a sexual situation involving a couple where one person is 16 and the other is 18, there could be serious legal trouble for the 18-year-old. Even if both parties consented, a parent may get into the situation because minors do not have the ability to give consent. Such legal issues could have a detrimental impact on the 18-year-old’s future.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Romeo and Juliet law gets rid of the requirement for a person to register as a sex offender in a situation where the victim is a minor if he or she meets specific criteria. The goal is to avoid lumping in people who have consensual sex with true sexual offenders who are a danger to the public.
To qualify under this law, a person must be no more than four years older than the other individual. The age of the supposed victim must be no younger than 13. Also, the activity must have been consensual by both parties. The accused should not already be on the sexual offender registry.
The rights under this law are not automatic. A person who wishes to avoid having to register because he or she meets the criteria must petition the court to request a waiver of the order to register.
The Florida Statutes state that the prosecutor may present evidence to oppose the use of this law and therefore must receive a notice at least 21 days prior to any court hearing. If a court issues a waiver, then it is the person’s responsibility to provide a copy of the order to the Department of Law Enforcement to avoid any further legal issues for not registering per the first order. If the person already had registered in the case, then the Department must remove all of his or her information from the system.