Florida's Romeo and Juliet Law

In 2007, Florida enacted what is commonly referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet” law.

The purpose of this law was to allow certain young individuals (so-called “Romeo and Juliet” offenders) convicted of statutory sex crimes, the ability to avoid the harsh consequence of lifetime inclusion on the sex-offender registry because of a consensual sexual conduct. [1]

Contrary to popular belief, this law did not create a “near-age” defense to crimes that involve unlawful sexual activity with minors.

Rather, the law allows certain people convicted of crimes involving unlawful sexual activity with minors to avoid designation as a sexual offender or sexual predator and being required to submit to lifetime sexual offender registration requirements.

Eligibility Under the Romeo and Juliet Law

Under Florida Statute 943.04354, a person's case must meet the following requirements to be eligible to petition for removal from the sex offender registration laws:

  • The conviction was for:
  • The crime involved a consensual sexual encounter with a 14, 15, 16, or 17 year old minor;
  • The minor was no more than 4 years younger than the defendant at the time of the sexual encounter;
  • Registration as a sexual offender (or predator) is solely because of the above conviction;
  • No other convictions for a Lewd or Lascivious Offense, Sexual Battery, or Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition using a Computer exist.

Four Year Window Calculation

Florida strictly interprets the four-year window requirement. As a result, to be eligible under the Romeo & Juliet law, a defendant’s birthday must be within four literal years (1,460 days) of the minor’s birthday. If a defendant is one day past the four-year eligibility limit, the defendant is ineligible to petition for relief. [2]

Pre-2007 Cases

Individuals who otherwise meet the Romeo & Juliet eligibility criteria, but who were convicted prior to its 2007 enactment, may also petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry in the county where they were originally convicted.

Discretionary Relief

Importantly though, even if a person qualifies for removal of the sex offender designation, the ultimate decision is a discretionary decision left up to the reviewing trial judge.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Hornsby

If you believe you could qualify for removal from the sex crimes registry under the Romeo & Juliet law and your offense occurred in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Miller v. State, 17 So. 3d 778 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009)
  2. State v. Marcel, 67 So. 3d 1223 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011)