Florida's Romeo and Juliet Law
Created during the 2007 Florida Legislation Session, the Romeo and Juliet law was passed to protect young individuals from a lifelong punishment of enlisting in the Sex Offender Registry due to statutory rape convictions. Statutory rape includes teenagers or young adults who are within a few years apart, and willingly participate in sexual relations with each other. This law addresses the concern for teenagers being labeled as sex offenders because they had a consensual sexual relationship with another that is close in age. The purpose of this law is to allow individuals convicted of statutory sex crimes to petition the court for removal of all sex offender registry information because the sexual activity was consensual. According to Florida Statue 943.04354, the consenting victim must be 14 years of age, no more than 4 years younger than the offender (18+) at the time the offense occurred, and the sexual activity must be consensual. This law does not condone sexual relations with a minor, but gives the offender protection and allowance to petition the court for sex offender removal. If the sexual incident occurred with a minor younger than 14, the charge is typically sexual assault on a child. The offender will not be eligible for petitioning the court under the Romeo and Juliet Law. Consequences of becoming a registered sex offender or predator can negatively influence a person's future such as employment restrictions, residential restrictions, travel restrictions, family and friends, and future relationships.
Florida Statue 943.04354 states that in order for an individual to be eligible under the Romeo and Juliet Law, he or she must meet certain requirements to be allowed to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry. These requirements include:
Conviction must be for:
A lewd or Lascivious offense, or Sexual Battery
The sex crime involved a consensual encounter with a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.
The minor is no more than 4 years younger than the offender.
The registration as a sexual predator or offender is solely based on the conviction of lewd or lascivious act or sexual battery.
There must be no other sex crime convictions to include: sexual battery, lewd or lascivious offense, or lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer.
Petitions Not Granted
When a petition is not granted by a judge, this generally means the defendant did not meet the requirements of the Florida statute necessary for approval. At times, the defendant can be rejected by the prosecutor or judge even if he or she has met the requirements. This is due to other reasons such as:
The defendant's criminal history
The defendant was in a position of authority over the victim
The defendant "targeted" the underage victim such as online chat rooms or social media
The defendant had prior warning from the victims parent to stay away
The defendant provided alcohol or drugs to the victim
Evidence of similar uncharged or non-arrested behavior.
The defendant has multiple uncharged and charged relationships with minors
The situation appears to be more coercive rather than consensual.
According to Florida Statue 943.04354, the offender is limited to only one (1) motion or petition for removal. If the offender is not granted the motion or petition for sex offender registry removal, he or she must wait twenty-five (25) years after the completion of the sentence before he or she may be allowed to petition the court.
Florida's Four year Window
Florida withholds a four-year window requirement. This calculation states that under the Florida Romeo and Juliet Law, the offenders birthday must be within four (4) actual years (1,460 Days) of the victims birthday. If the offender is one day past the four-year window, he or she is no longer eligible for the protection and petition under the Romeo and Juliet Law and will have to wait for twenty-five (25) years after sentence completion to petition the court. With convictions prior to the legislation passing the Romeo and Juliet Law in 2007, an offender may still be able to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry in the county he or she was originally convicted.
Florida Statute 943.04354