The Michigan Senate approved a series of bills to reform Michigan’s sex offender laws on Thursday, including a provision that would no longer require those in ” Romeo and Juliet ” relationships to remain on the sex offender list.
Under a law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, so called Romeo and Juliet offenders will no longer be included on the registry if they’re convicted of having sex with 13, 14 or 15 year olds, as long as the offending partner isn’t more than four years older.
The sex registry, which was launched in 1995, is meant to warn the public about where convicted sex offenders, many considered predators based on past crimes, are living.
The law before the changes, in some cases was destroying the lives of young people who were boyfriend and girlfriend involved in a consensual act. If there was a 17 year old high school junior dating a 15 year old freshman and they were involved in consensual acts, under the old law the 17 year old would be charged and potentially end up on the sex registry for 25 years.
Here are some questions and answers reagrding the act.
QUESTION: What is a Romeo and Juliet sex offense?
ANSWER: That’s a case in which a youth age 13-15 has sex with someone else that age, or someone up to four years older.
Q: Why is that illegal?
A: In Michigan (and most states), 16-year-olds can legally consent to sex, but not younger teens. It’s not legal for, say, an 18-year-old to have sex with a 14-year-old, even if it’s consensual.
Q: What does the new law change?
A: It still won’t be legal to have sex with someone younger than 16. But those convicted of what is commonly known as statutory rape — consensual sex with someone age 13, 14 or 15 — no longer would have their names placed on the state sex offender registry if they were no more than four years older.
In effect, there would be no sex registry listing in cases of illegal, consensual sex up to a 19-year-old who has sex with a 15-year-old.
And, importantly, the court would have to determine that the sex was consensual.
Q: What about a 22-year-old who has sex with a 15-year-old?
A: That’s illegal sex, and because the 22-year-old is more than four years older, he or she would have his or her name placed on the sex offender registry.
Q: What if an older teen is convicted of having sex with someone younger than 13?
A: That falls under a different category of sex offense. In that case, his or her name would be put on the registry for up to 25 years.
Q: How does the change affect those already convicted of a Romeo and Juliet sex offense?
A: If their names are on the sex offender registry because of the conviction, they can petition a court to have their names removed, if they are no more than four years apart in age. It would not nullify a conviction, however.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW FALLS UNDER THE ROMEO AND JULIET ACT, AND WISH TO HAVE NAME REMOVED, CALL ATTORNEY TODD LEVITT, AT 989-772-6000