Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Recent Story at a Georgia High School Gives Example of Romeo and Juliet Laws in Georgia

Posted by Richard Lawson | Apr 02, 2018 | 0 Comments

Curtis Bell, 17, has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl at a high school in Cobb County. According to reports, he is facing charges of sexual battery, child molestation, and enticing a child for indecent purposes.

Sex Crimes in Georgia are heavily stigmatized - especially when dealing with minors. However, what most people don't know are that there are provisions in most sex offense statutes that apply to minors known as “Romeo and Juliet” laws.

What is Romeo and Juliet law?

If the victim is between 14 and 16 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or no more than four years older than the victim, he or she will only face misdemeanor charges and will not be required to register as a sex offender. This means that normally if a person of 18 years or more than four years older than the victim were to commit the crime, the penalty would be greater.

Let's examine how the "Romeo and Juliet" laws show up in two of the crimes Bell is accused of committing.

Child Molestation

Georgia Law defines child molestation in Georgia as “when a person either does any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person; or by means of an electronic device, transmits images of a person engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in any immoral or indecent act to a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person” O.C.G.A. §16-6-4(a). 

If convicted of child molestation, a person will face a sentence of five to twenty years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender in Georgia.

However, if the victim is between 14 and 16 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or no more than four years older than the victim, he or she will only face misdemeanor charges and will not be required to register as a sex offender.

Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes

Georgia Law defines enticing a child for indecent purposes in Georgia as “when a person solicits, entices, or takes any child under the age of 16 years to a place whatsoever for the purpose of child molestation or indecent acts.” O.C.G.A. §16-6-5.

If convicted of enticing a child for indecent purposes, a person will face a sentence of ten to thirty years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender in Georgia. 

But, again, if the victim is between 14 and 16 years old and the defendant is 18 years old or no more than four years older than the victim, he or she will only face misdemeanor charges and will not be required to register as a sex offender.

What's the purpose of "Romeo and Juliet" laws?

Romeo and Juliet provisions are meant to address situations where two young individuals who are close in age engage in sexual relations. The reason is that there is an age of consent in all states that dictates when a person can legally consent to sex. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Georgia, contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer today. We know that just because someone has been accused of a crime doesn't mean he or she is guilty of that crime. Call today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense. He exclusively handles DUI Cases. As a former DUI Prosecutor he knows both sides of your case. Put his experience to work for you. You only have 30 days to protect your right to drive. Call now for immediate attention. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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