Sunday, July 8, 2007

New law 'decriminalizes' some teen sex

View the article here

07/08/2007

'Romeo and Juliet defense' may apply to couples

For years in Indiana, the age at which a person could legally consent to have sex was 16.

But lawyers for young defendants accused of having sex with 14- and 15-year-olds now can pose a defense against charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Public Law 216, which went into effect July 1, contains a long list of criminal law changes related to sexual and violent offenses and the Indiana Sex Offender Registry, which has been renamed the Sex and Violent Offender Registry.

Among those changes, the law creates a legal defense, nicknamed the "Romeo and Juliet defense," against charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.

"The change in the law decriminalizes consensual sex among teenagers in a dating relationship if they are within four years age difference," said Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council.

Stephen J. Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, which supported and helped write the new defense, said the change doesn't really lower the age of consent.

It modifies a 1994 law that made sexual misconduct with a minor a separate offense from child molesting as a way of dealing with teenage sexuality, Johnson said.

"We did not view the new defense as a radical change in the law; rather it created what we believed was a relatively narrow defense for certain sexual acts among young people over the age which would qualify for child molestation," Johnson said.

"It did not change the elements of the crime of sexual misconduct with a minor."

Deputy prosecutor Laura Zeman, who prosecutes most of the sexual misconduct cases in Tippecanoe County, said the law change means she'll be less focused on the defendant's knowledge of the victim's age in some cases.

In the past, charges were not filed if the state could not prove the accused was aware of the alleged victim's age. Now, Zeman suspects, more defendants will focus on the new defense.

"I would not have lobbied for it one way or the other. That's up to the legislators," Zeman said. "Whatever laws they pass, we are obligated to enforce."

The conditions

When asserting the defense, Johnson said, the accused carries the burden of proving all elements of the defense.

The defense can be asserted if the party accused of having sexual contact with a 14- or 15-year-old is under 21, is no more than four years older than the alleged victim and was involved in a dating relationship with the alleged victim at the time.

Sex with a person under 14 is still child molesting, regardless of the age of the perpetrator.

The new law could protect an 18-year-old from adult felony charges if he has sex with a 15-year-old girlfriend, for instance.

The defense cannot be asserted if the accused:

  • Is 21 or older.
  • Uses force, a weapon or drugs, or causes serious bodily injury during the act.
  • Has a position of authority or substantial influence over the victim.
  • Has committed another sex offense against any other person.
Landis said the law change arose from legislators' concerns that the ever-widening set of crimes forcing people to register as sex offenders was having unintended consequences.

"Initially, it was a narrow list of offenses" that prompted the sex offender registry requirement, Landis said. "It had to be rape, criminal deviate conduct -- some forcible sex act."

Year after year, more offenses were added to the list of convictions requiring registration.

As a result, some sexually active teenagers in consensual, dating relationships wound up with criminal convictions that required lifetime sex offender registration.

"It's debilitating," Landis said. "It affects their ability to get into school, student loans, jobs."



5 comments :

Anonymous said...

Its a start. Of course, if you're 13 and have sexual contact with another 13 year old, you're toast.
And I'm concerned about the requirement that a dating relationship be established. Teens do stupid things. They "hook up" at a party. Personally I can't see whey the standard isn't a simple 4 years older for consensual sex (we need another word that clearly states intent and willingness even without legal consent, since children cannot consent.)

Anonymous said...

WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS WHO SAY THEY ARE OLDER THEN WHAT THEY ARE TO DATE BOYS BETWEEN 16-21,I WAS TOLD THAT GIRLS UNDER 14 DON'T UNDERSTAND AND CAN'T GIVE CONSET TO SEX, WELL THEN WHY IS THERE SO MANY TEEN RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN 12-21 THAT ARE CONSENTED CONSENSUAL SEX,WHY ARE ONLY THE BOYS BEING PUNSHED?WHY ARE THE PARENTS OF THE UNDERAGE(14)GIRL NOT BEING PUNSH ITS NOT FAIR TO THE BOYS AND NOT ALL OF THEM SHOULD BE CONSIDERED SEX OFFENDERS,NOT WHEN IT WAS A CONSENT SEXUAL BETWEEN TO TEENAGE KIDS UNDER 21 AND THIER WAS NO FORCE OR VILOENCE THE BOYS LIFES ARE GETTING RUINED FOR LIFE NOW THEY HAVE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER,GO TO PRISON,HAVING A HARD TIME TRYING TO GET A JOB,MADE FUN OF,TREATED LIKE A RAPIST,CONSENT SEX BETWEEN TEENS AGES 12-19 I BELIEVE SHOULD NOT BE CLASIFIED AS CHILD MOLESTERS

Anonymous said...

what about the girls between the ages of 12-17 that say they are older then what they really are,chase,pursue,call,hang all over them and thier cars,want to date them,consent to having sex with a boy between the ages 16-21,why are the girls not getting in trouble??? why are only the boys getting in trouble and being labled as a child molester??? it mess the boys whole life up,not the girls! they go on with thier life and go after anouther boy way older then they are,girls are not innocent either i believe in cases like this that are consent sex should not be classified as child molesting,alot of kids between the ages of 12-19 go to school together, especially in small schools that k-12 are in the same school,of course a girl going in 7th grade is going to want to date a senior that has a car,money, you name it,or vise versa,it makes them look cool,but its consented between the girl and the boy,but not the parent so the parent press charges,against the boy because hes so much older he gets lable child molester, and is put prison and ruined for life and has to register as a sex offender,how is that fair,all girls are not inncoenct, they know what sex means after all they have sex ed in 5th grade, kids are not stupid,teens between 12-21 if consent should be cassified differently because not all of them are child molesters

Anonymous said...

A 14 year old does not have the mental capacity to understand what they are doing and therefore cannot consent to sex. But if that same 14 year old grabs a gun and starts shooting up, I don't know, a high school, maybe. The law will charge them as adults and prove that they knew exactly what they were doing. Is that right? Which is it! Do they know what their doing or not?

whatsthis said...

After reading this latest report and where the Teen Girls stand today on sex. I am shocked that why is it that even the Depat of HHS is reporting this:

Alarming Statistics
Despite the 'good news' more young girls (as many as 47 percent) are reporting that they are having sex. More girls in fact reported having sex than boys.

This contradicts the traditional belief that boys are more likely to have sex than girls. It also flies in the face of traditional stereotypical beliefs that boys should be careful with regard to sex whereas girls should not have sex at all.

Modern societal 'norms' dictate in fact that girls and women should be able to do anything and everything that boys do, and sex is no exception. The statistics prove that this is the case.

With facts supporting the notion that more and more young women are having sex, it is vital that parents recognize the need to talk frankly with their children about sex.

The old mentality that boys simply 'do it' and girls avoid it is outdated. Girls are more and more becoming the aggressor in all matters, including matters of sex.

Other surveys have also supported the notion that girls are more and more sexually aggressive, as aggressive if not more aggressive than teen boys.

The good news is that the studies that have been conducted thus far support the idea that girls are also being selective and cautious, using protection and contraception much more often than in the past.

As a parent, there is some comfort in the knowledge that teens are being much more careful. For the most part girls and boys are also delaying the age at which first intercourse occurs.

It is vital that young women take with them the message that they are responsible for their sexual health and their overall health and well being. Thus every measure should be taken to inform and educate young women about the dangers of unsafe sex.

One thing is certain. The old idea of men as more sexually aggressive and forceful than women no longer applies… whether the man is 16 or 45. Young women are taking charge of their sexuality, the fact cannot be denied.

Remember however that knowledge is power. The more you know about your children and their behavior, the better parent and educator you can be.

Now give the facts stated above why is it that boys, men are the ones that go to jail as in the case of the teen boy in Georgia Wilson. http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/reality_of_teen_sex.htm

This is not right and needs to be addressed that teens get treatment and boys get "JAIL" I would love to be able to give any Senator, Congressperson a polygraph and ask when they had sex and what age was the girl. I would also like to ask how many of them have ever stopped and urinate on the road side. God bless America because she needs it.