Does Louisiana have a Romeo and Juliet rape law?

The Louisiana Legislature has enacted a host of laws that protect men and women from the sexually criminal actions of others. Its law regarding sexual battery, as discussed in title 14, section 43.1 of the state’s criminal code, contemplates a variety of ways that a person can violate the statute and be charged with a sexually-based crime. It is here that this post’s analysis of a possible Romeo and Juliet law is based.

Generally, a Romeo and Juliet law refers to the Shakespearean romance between youths of two warring factions. Their love was forbidden but they chose to be together regardless of the costs. Modern Romeo and Juliet laws criminalize sexual contact between youths with less serious penalties than full sexual battery and statutory rape laws.

Part A of the aforementioned law lists what conduct amounts to sexual battery. Section 2 of Part A states that the law applies when the victim has not yet attained 15 years of age and is at least three years younger than the offender. It appears by this language that the law may not apply to two 15-year-olds or any other permutation of ages that do not fall under the quoted language.

This law is not explicitly a Romeo and Juliet law. Minors facing criminal charges for rape, sexual battery, statutory rape and other sexually-based crimes should work with criminal defense attorneys to fully explore their options and defenses for trial. However, this particular part of Louisiana’s criminal code does suggest that the law may not fully apply to individuals of all ages. Please consult with a professional in the criminal law field for more information on this subject, which is provided here for informative purposes only and should not be read as legal guidance.

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