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Romeo and Juliet Clause in Georgia?

Atlanta, GA |

I am working on a paper and I am wonder where I can find the statute for this clause where I can get a sound reference. If anyone knows I would appreciate it. Thanks

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer
Posted

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.

Allen Rust Knox

Allen Rust Knox

Posted

YOu can find these statutes in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.). Just type Georgia Code into a search engine such as yahoo and you should be able to find a cite with access to the Code.

Asker

Posted

I have been looking in regards to molestation and statutory rape for the paper. I have to prove that 25 years to life is unconstitutional for consensual oral sex that was charged as aggravated child molestation. I was trying to show that it would fall under the Romeo and Juliet clause if it had been rape and that sentence was less or something along those lines I looked under the 16-6-6 on lectlaw and could not find it, it is why I asked on here. Is there a law library nearby that might have the reference?

Allen Rust Knox

Allen Rust Knox

Posted

16-6-4 (d) (2) is the Romeo and Juliet provision for aggravated child molestation. Unlike the other statutes' Romeo and Juliet provisions, it is specifically limited to acts of sodomy between participants of a certain age group. If a person is under 18 years of age and has oral sex with a 14 or 15 year old who he or she is no more than 4 years older than, aggravated child molestation is a misdemeanor. Note, however, that if the charge of aggravated child molestation is based upon an injury occurring to the child during an act of child molestation, the Romeo and Juliet provision does not apply. Moreover, you will not find any caselaw that says the 25 year mandatory minimum is unconstitutional. The only thing close to that is Humphrey v. Wilson (282 Ga. 520) and its progeny which found certain specific instances where a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence was imposed on certain youthful offenders was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. These cases came around after the legislature enacted the Romeo and Juliet provision in the aggravated child molestation statute. Since this law was not applied retroactively to persons who had been sentenced before its existence, the Georgia Supreme Court found in Humphrey's case that his punishment of 10 years in prison for the crime was grosely disproportionate to the seriousness of the offense which he had committed. Basically, they were retroactively applying the Romeo and Juliet provision to his case. On the other hand, Adams v. State (288 Ga. 695) is the Georgia Supreme Court's decision that the 25 year mandatory minimum is not cruel and unusual in the case of a 13 year old committing an act of oral sodomy on a 4 year old. Note that the Romeo and Juliet provision could not apply in this case because the victim is too young and the defendant is more than 4 years older. As for law libraries, each county has a law library. For instance, in Cobb County, there is a law library in the basement of the State Court building.

Asker

Posted

Unfortunately the said defendant in the paper is 19 and the "victim" is 15 and no injury was committed, but I read somewhere that Oral sex is considered sodomy which also puts this under the aggravated section of child molestation? But his 18 year old friend just got it charged as a misdemeanor. Thank you for the information. I will be finishing up this paper tonight and I appreciate your time.

John Arnold Steakley

John Arnold Steakley

Posted

We need a similar Romeo & Juliet provision in the child pornography statute so that teens "sexting" each other isn't child pornography. Note that if a 15 year old girl sends her 18 year old boyfriend a cell phone picture of what he can expect to get on prom night, that's a more serious crime than when he actually gets it from her.

Asker

Posted

But if a 19 year old and a 15 year old are engaged in consensual activities... how is that any different than an 18 year old who gets a misdemeanor... Just because the parents are no longer legally responsible... I am having a hard time getting my head around this one..

Asker

Posted

But if a 19 year old and a 15 year old are engaged in consensual activities... how is that any different than an 18 year old who gets a misdemeanor... Just because the parents are no longer legally responsible... I am having a hard time getting my head around this one..

Asker

Posted

But if a 19 year old and a 15 year old are engaged in consensual activities... how is that any different than an 18 year old who gets a misdemeanor... Just because the parents are no longer legally responsible... I am having a hard time getting my head around this one..

Asker

Posted

Sorry about the triple post :(

Allen Rust Knox

Allen Rust Knox

Posted

The difference is the General Assembly did not make a misdemeanor exception for sexual contact between a 19 year old and a 15 year old. There has to at some point be a cutoff. Here, I assume the legislature decided that 19 year olds were in a different stage of their life and social development than 15 year olds. At 15, you are likely to be a sophomore in high school. At 19, you are supposed to have completed high school and be on your way to college or the working world. This could be proscribing what I call the "college man" syndrome, where a high school girl dates a college guy simply because he is in college and the guy takes advantage of her. The Constitutional difference is that the legislature did not provide for a misdemeanor punishment for this scenario. The Court's often look to recent legislative action on punishment when determining whether a particular punishment is cruel and unusual. For instance, there is a United States Supreme Court case concerning giving juvenile offenders life sentences for crimes other than murder. The Court looked to the legislative enactments accross the country and found a trend that prohibited life sentences for juveniles for any crime other than murder. Therefore, in interpretting the constitutional provision against cruel and unusual punishment, they found this to be America's belief on the issue and decided that a life sentence for a juvenile in a particular case was cruel and unusual. The same thing happened in Humphrey's case. The Georgia Supreme Court looked at the General Assembly's new legislation making Humphrey's conduct a misdemeanor and decided, therefore, that for him to recieve a 10 year sentence was cruel and unusual.

Asker

Posted

I also found the Wilson case and that seemed to deal more with the Child Protection Act than an actual account of whether or not his sentence was considered to be cruel and unusual. I don't know that I agree with the way I have to argue this paper but I don't necessarily get a choice. I understand there has to be a cut off somewhere but it seems so ambiguous and grey when one gets to that point.

Allen Rust Knox

Allen Rust Knox

Posted

There are a couple of things to remember here as well when you are analyzing this. Child molestation and aggravated child molestation do not simply proscribe all sexual contact with children under 16. When it comes to sexual intercourse, the Statutory Rape law absolutely procludes the conduct. As to other sexual contact, child molestation and aggravated child molestation only prohibit "immoral and indecent" conduct. What is "immoral and indecent" sexual contact is a matter for the jury to decide based upon the facts of each individual case. For instance, nobody is going to find that a 19 year old kissing a 15 year old is immoral and indecent way, even if it is in a sexual context. Oral sex is a completely different type of contact. However, there may be a fact pattern out there where a jury does not consider the conduct to be "immoral and indecent." For instance, if the 19 year old met and started dating the 15 year old when they were 18 and 14 and both attending the same high school, the jury may not consider their sexual contact in a continued relationship to be "immoral and indecent." However, in your case you must consider the fact that the jury, by finding your defendant guilty, has made a determination that the oral sex was immoral and indecent under the circumstances in your case. People often lose sight of this fact. What you are now trying to argue is that the 25 year sentence is grossly disproportionate to the crime charged. If you are arguing this at the State constitutional level, the precedents seem to be against you. However, if you are arguing this as a violation of the Federal constitutional provision, you may want to look to other states' statutes to see how they would punish this conduct. If you can establish a pattern of punishing this as a misdemeanor (or a pattern of considerably lesser felony sentences), you might have a decent argument.

Posted

§ 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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Asker

Posted

I appreciate your time and response, Thank you :)

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