Indianapolis Sex Crimes Attorney Blog: A Look at the Romeo and Juliet Law in Indiana

Indiana’s Romeo & Juliet Defense to Sexual Misconduct Charges

‘That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet’ (Juliet, Act 2 Scene 1)

In almost every single sex-based crime that is charged in Indiana, the stakes couldn’t be much higher. Whether someone is facing high fines, a lengthy prison sentence, a long-term sex registration, and/or the public stigma of a sex-based conviction, it is no wonder we receive so many calls on these types of cases. Many times peoples’ lives are on the line and they are desperate for guidance and help from an experienced Indianapolis Sex Crimes Attorney. Therefore, it’s only natural that they would be looking for any defense available to combat any and all sex-based allegations.

Interestingly, for the longest time (and as is the case in most instances), age is the determining factor in determining the penalty range of a sex-based crime. For example, the age of consent in Indiana is 16. An adult, so long as they don’t have a position of power or trust over the 16 year old, may have a consensual sexual encounter with anyone 16 years of age and older. Many people are surprised to hear the age of consent is less than 18 years old in Indiana. Moreover, the penalty ranges of crimes like child molest and sexual misconduct of a minor significantly increase based on the Defendant’s age and the the alleged victim. For example, crimes involving victims between the ages of 14-16 aren’t nearly as severe as crimes against those 13 and below. Furthermore, crimes of defendants between 18 and 21 are typically less harsh than when the defendant is over the age of 21.

But, have you ever heard of the Romeo and Juliet defense in Indiana? Many people have not. In fact, when most people hear of it, they think it’s a joke. Luckily for many, it is not. So what is it? While the age of consent in Indiana is 16, this rule allows 14 and 15 year old juveniles to partake in consensual sexual activity with peers so long as that sexual partner is no more than 4 years older than them. This law was created to protect those that had been in a dating relationship prior to engaging in sexual conduct, and by the nature of timing, became an age where the sexual conduct would be illegal if it were to continue. The specifically states that no crime was committed so long as:

  • the defendant is less than 21 years of age
  • is not more than 4 years older than the alleged victim,
  • the defendant and the alleged victim were in an “ongoing personal relationship” prior to the sexual activity,
  • no deadly force nor threat of force was used
  • no serious bodily injury resulted
  • no cohercion was used by way of drugs or a controlled substance
  • no position of power, authority, influence, or trust was used to influence the relationship

As you can see, what would be a crime but for this rule is no longer a crime thanks to this rule. Any good Indianapolis Sex Crimes attorney with any experience would be able to spot this defense and have the charges dismissed. So, if you or a loved one are facing a sex-based crime, give the experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today. We are available 24/7 at info@banksbrower.com or 317.870.0019.