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Statutory Rape: How to Avoid Sex Offender Registration

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In Texas, statutory rape occurs whenever an individual penetrates another who is less than 17 and not his spouse. Statutory rape is one of the few crimes of strict liability, which means that a person is absolutely responsible for his or her behavior without the need to show intent. As such, it is common for charges of statutory rape to bring a conviction, even if the act was consensual or the perpetrator did not know the other party was under age. Many times, a conviction will also require an individual to register as a sex offender.

Some teenagers could have an affirmative defense to charges of statutory rape if they are no more than three years older than their victim, who is at least 14 years of age. The act must also be consensual in order for this affirmative defense to apply. The use of “date rape” or other drugs to entice sex would be in violation of statutory rape laws, since someone who is intoxicated cannot legally give consent.

Romeo and Juliet Law

The state of Texas has recognized that the old law often led to unfair consequences for some who had actually engaged in harmless behavior. As a result, the legislature has now enacted what is known as the “Romeo and Juliet law.” Designed to prevent teenagers and young adults from being labeled as sex offenders, it provides an exemption under certain circumstances. In order to qualify for this exception, there must be:

  • Consensual sexual relations between a minor less than 17 and an individual over the age of 17
  • An age difference of no more than four years between the parties
  • A “victim” who is at least 15 years of age

This new law does not exempt individuals from statutory rape charges; however, it will prevent them from having to register as a sex offender if they are convicted. Statutory rape charges are serious, and should be dealt with accordingly if the defendant is to avoid significant jail time or damage to his reputation.

If you are being accused of statutory rape, contact Brett A. Podolsky for a free legal consultation at 713.227.0087.

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