This guide explores several different topics related to the age of consent in Texas.
What is the Age of Consent in Texas?
We get this question all the time. The answer, however, is much more complex than a one-size-fits-all number. First of all, there is no single law that establishes "the age of consent." I don't know where the concept of the "age of consent" came from, but I can tell you that there is no single age of consent in Texas. There are several different offenses in Texas that deal with child molestation, statutory rape and other age-related sex offenses, and each of these establish a certain age range in which someone would be considered a child for the purposes of the crime.
Can you get in trouble for having a sexual relationship with a 17 year old?
Well, that depends. If you are 17 years old yourself, then no. However, if you are twenty years old or older, than you can be charged with Sexual Performance by a Child. Anyone under 18 years old is considered a child for the purposes of that statute, but there is an "affirmative defense" available to anyone who is not more than two years older than the other person. So, an 18 year old would be able to assert this defense to a relationship involving a 16 year old, and a 17 year old would be able to assert this defense involving a 15 year old, and so on.
Another statute, Indecency with a Child (e.g. child molestation) would not apply to 17 year olds because they are not considered children under that statute.
What is the Romeo and Juliet law?
Although most 16 year olds would be considered children under most child abuse laws, there are exceptions to their application to 16 year olds. For instance, if the older person in a sexual relationship was not more than three years older, the people involved were of the opposite sex, no duress, force, or threat was used and you are not already a sex offender, you have an affirmative defense to Indecency with a Child. You also have an affirmative defense to prosecution under Indecency with a Child if you are the spouse of the child at the time of the offense.
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