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Teen Statutory Rape Often Just A Misunderstanding Of Sex Crimes

A teenage couple in Florida is making news because of their ages: one is 18 and the other is 14. The 18-year-old, Kaitlyn Hunt is facing criminal sex offense charges of lewd and lascivious assault on a minor based on a sexual relationship she had with a 14-year-old classmate. Hunt is facing registration as a sex offender if convicted of the underage sex crime.

Hunt insists that the relationship with the 14-year-old female student was consensual. The two attend the same Florida high school. She is hopeful, however, that Florida's Romeo and Juliet law will spare her from lifetime registry as a sex offender if she is convicted.

In Florida, a person convicted of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor can avoid lifetime registry if:

  • The minor was at least 14 years old
  • The sexual contact at issue was consensual
  • The accused is no more than four years older than the minor involved

Approximately 241 teens have been granted safe harbor under the Romeo and Juliet law for consensual relationships that were prosecuted as sex offenses based on the ages of the teens involved.

Statutory rape in North Carolina is defined as sex with a minor between the ages of 13 and 15 by a person who is four or more years older than the minor. If the minor is under 13 and the other person involved is four or more years older, the criminal charge is first degree rape.

North Carolina currently does not have a Romeo and Juliet law similar to Florida's that would allow for a person convicted of statutory rape to avoid being forced to register as a sex offender.

Source: WPTV, "Florida's Romeo and Juliet Law could be used in Kaitlyn Hunt case, removes sex offender status," May 20, 2013

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