Mr. Steakley has given you the Romeo and Juliet provision in the context of Statutory Rape. This clause can also be found in the Sodomy statute (16-6-2), the child molestation statute (16-6-3), the enticing a child statute (16-6-5) and the sexual assault statute (16-6-5.1). The idea was to keep otherwise consensual sexual activities by two individuals who could legitimately have a positive, healthy relationship from being penalized as harshly as the law provides for older adults having contact with children. In these cases, the General Assembly still wanted to proscribe the conduct as illegal (largely for purposes of fighting teen pregnancy), but they did not want to punish the offenders as harshely due to their age and the possibility that they could be in a legitimate relationship with the victim. If you look throughout the chapter on sex crimes (Chapter 6 of Title 16), you will notice that the clause does not appear in various other sex crimes that either have an element of force in them or involve prostitution, etc. These could not possibly be situations where the youthful offender has a healthy, positive relationship with the victim. Therefore, they are punished just like everybody else for these crimes.
§ 16-6-3. Statutory rape
(a) A person commits the offense of statutory rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years and not his or her spouse, provided that no conviction shall be had for this offense on the unsupported testimony of the victim.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, a person convicted of the offense of statutory rape shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years; provided, however, that if the person so convicted is 21 years of age or older, such person shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years. Any person convicted under this subsection of the offense of statutory rape shall, in addition, be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Section 17-10-6.2.
(c) If the victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of statutory rape is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
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