Florida's Age of Consent Law

What You Need to Know About the Romeo and Juliet Law

The age of consent in Florida is 18. In general, people under age 18 are unable to give their legal sexual consent because they are minors.

In the eyes of the law minors lack the capacity to make the decision to give their consent for sex.

Some exceptions to this age of consent requirement exist, such as, if the couple is married, or if the minor is legally emancipated.

Florida's Romeo and Juliet Law

Age of Consent

The age of consent is the age at which a person may consent to sexual contact with ANY person not in a position of authority. The age of consent in Florida is 18.

However, if a person is less than 24 years old, they may enter into consensual sexual contact with a person who is at least 16 years old.

Statutory rape was the term used in Florida for many years for under age consensual sex.

Over the years, terminology evolved and the term statutory rape was replaced with sexual battery to describe under age sex.

Statutory rape implies consent, even though the consent was given by a minor -- sexual battery is the opposite of consensual sex.

Sexual Offender Registration

Sex offenders are required to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A Photo, home address, sex offense charge, and disposition of their case is posted on the internet for all to see.

Every job application asks whether the applicant is a sex offender -- if the offender tells the truth he won’t be hired, if he lies to get the job he’ll be terminated.

Registered sex offenders are prohibited from living less than 1,000 feet from anywhere children might congregate, such as public parks, schools, and school bus stops.

Likewise sexual offenders are prohibited from using most public shelters during disasters.

These are overly cruel punishments for teens just starting out in life, who did nothing more than fall in love and have sex. Of course, those who actually committed sexual battery should be held accountable.

Parents, though they likely do not want their teens to become sexually active, desire even less for their sons and daughters to be marked for life with the sex offender’s scarlet letter.

Romeo and Juliet Laws Enacted by Legislature

Yet, until 2007, there was little relief for teenagers who were caught having consensual sex.

The overly harsh sex offender laws evolved again, and the so-called Romeo and Juliet laws were passed.

Florida Statute 943.04354, titled, Removal of the Requirement to Register as a Sex Offender Under Certain Circumstances relieves many teens of the requirement to register as sex offenders.

The statute states that a sex offender may be relieved from registration requirements if, among other requirements:

c) Is not more than 4 years older than the victim of this violation who was 14 years of age or older but not more than 17 years of age at the time the person committed this violation.

Modified Age of Consent

So, a 14 year old and an 18 year old; up to a 17 year old and a 21 year old; are allowed to have consensual intimate relationships, without fear of the life time stigma of sex offender status.

This Romeo and Juliet law was passed quietly without fanfare. Changing the age of consent was passed without the media frenzy that accompanies stories of sex offenders stealing children in the night.

Many young registered sex offenders may not be aware that they can now request they be relieved of the obligation to register as sex offenders.

The mechanism for requesting relief from the obligation to register is within the statute.


Page last updated 01/23/15
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