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Sex crimes and the 'Romeo and Juliet' defense

Just like the fabled "Romeo and Juliet" of Shakespearean lore, whether or not their parents approve, teenagers in Arizona will experiment with their sexuality. It is part of growing up, and, ultimately, teenagers who are experiencing their first love or are simply curious may engage in sexual acts.

Parents may think that their child was taken advantage of in such situations, and, in some cases, may even want to claim that an illegal sexual offense has occurred against their child. However, there are certain circumstances in which consensual sexual activities between two teenagers will not be considered illegal.

For example, under Arizona law, it may be possible for a teenager to have consensual oral sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another teenager age 15, 16 or 17 if that teenager is under age 19, or is a high school student and is no more than two years older than the alleged victim. Therefore, if the alleged victim is, say, 16 and the accused perpetrator is 18 and the sexual contact was consensual, then the accused could not be prosecuted for a sex crime. However, if the victim is, say, age 14 and the accused perpetrator is 17, this defense could not be used, and the accused could be prosecuted for a sex crime.

This defense, known colloquially as a "Romeo and Juliet" defense, can protect teenagers who engage in consensual sexual acts in certain circumstances. If a teenager in Arizona is being accused of a sex crime against another teenager, it may be worthwhile to contact a criminal defense attorney to determine if this defense is applicable to the teenager's case.

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