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September 22, 2011

"Texas sex offenders scramble to take advantage of 'Romeo and Juliet' law"

The title of this post is the somewhat ironic headline of this notable local article reporting on the ability for some Texans previously prosecuted for consensual underage sexual encounters to get free from the label "sex offender" and the state's sex offender registry.  Here are the details: 

A North Texas man, who we will call "Austin", may be among the first in the state to drop his name from the sex offender registry, under the new "Romeo and Juliet" law. The measure allows young lovers to erase a teenage romance, that turned criminal.

"I have been associated with the worst kind of human beings," said the 28-year old man. Austin says he took a plea bargain almost ten years ago, that landed him on the state registry for sex offenders. The plea followed a relationship with a 16-year old girl, when he was 18. He says the two were in love and their parents approved, but the law didn't agree. "People want to know who did I rape and they think I am the one hiding out in the bushes."

But, Austin is hopeful that he will be able to get his name off the list because of the new law. "It feels like a big weight is about to be lifted off my shoulders. There is a lot of hope," he said.

Austin will petition a judge in West Texas, where his case is located to set a hearing where the judge will rule on whether or not his name can be dropped from the list. Under the law, young lovers can petition if there is fewer than four years age difference, the minor is at least 15 and the sex was consensual. Lawmakers who supported the change believe the updated measure will make a difference for a sliver of the state's sex offenders.

"We had testimony where people who had a teenage romance would get married, but because the husband is a sex offender he can't be around the kids," Dallas State Senator, Royce West, said. West sponsored the new legislation that he says will allow valuable resources to be used to keep tabs on the truly dangerous offenders. "We need to make sure the resources are used in the most hideous situations, as opposed to teenage love affairs," West said.

I suppose we should all look out for follow-up articles in this series under headlines like "Texas sex offenders pleased to take advantage of new law that lets them avoid the sex offender label" and "Texas sex offenders who have avoided the sex offender label continue to support law that advantaged them."

September 22, 2011 at 08:55 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I haven't seen the legislation, but it seems to me it would be hard for true sex offenders to take advantage of the law if the law requires the alleged victim's consent in order to have the sex offender status removed. I have heard stories of absurd results, such as being labeled a sex offender for public urination, so I can understand the motive behind wanting to reform the law. Unfortunately, it may just be a matter of keeping up with the times, given the incredibly young age at which kids are having "consensual" sex these days. There just isn't room in jail for all the junior high kids.

Posted by: Dana Altman, Esq. | Sep 22, 2011 11:51:04 AM

i think in this case the "consent" they are talking about would hve been evidence in the original charges. Where the two had consentual sex but becasuse of whatever idiotic law! what they did was decided to be criminal!

my problme with it. is it should be AUTOMATIC ...they should never have been on th ere in the first place. Should not have to spent a fortune and get a lawyer and be removed. Burden should be on the STATE if they think one needs to stay on there. GO TO DAMN COURT AND PROVE IT BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT!

other wise the state needs to SHUT THE HELL UP and let it end!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 22, 2011 8:24:13 PM

Part of the incentive to remove consensual teenage lovers from the sex offender lists is that they cause the list to be diluted---making it harder to spot the predatory sex offenders the list was designed for.
For a very informative article on the subject---google "the accidental sex offender marie claire" about two teenagers who go on to marry---and have daughters, but the dad can't come to their school, get certain jobs etc, because of his life long label, and the law makes no exceptions.

Posted by: folly | Sep 23, 2011 6:08:20 PM

I think the romeo juliet law was made only when it started hitting rich WHITE BOYS- pedeophils and sex with a tart is totally different, children don't drink,or smoke and have voluntary sex and if they are still wrong where is mom and dad in this they should also be held accountable.

Posted by: jesusa martinez | Jun 20, 2013 2:56:51 PM

I am a Mother who one son was blackmailed by girls mom money or jail he did not pay and another and they were both teens at the time and both girls were 14 and in the court papers they were 12 but I had a job at the time where i know the correct age was 14 but i could not disclose this information.

Posted by: jesusa martinez | Jun 20, 2013 2:59:49 PM

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