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Criminal Defense
What is the Romeo and Juliet Law in Maine?

What is the Romeo and Juliet Law in Maine?

In the US, some states like Maine have a Romeo and Juliet law that protects young couples engaging in sexual intercourse and who may or may not be at the minimum age of consent. In Maine, individuals younger than 15 are not legally old enough to consent to sexual activities. If sexual activities occur, the parties involved could face prosecution for statutory rape or other related crimes. 

If your child is charged with a sex crime, it’s best to seek assistance from a local Maine criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney from STEVE SMITH Trial Lawyers can help determine if your child falls under the Romeo and Juliet law. Continue reading to learn more about this law, and reach out to us when you’re ready to discuss the next steps. 

What Exactly Is Maine’s Romeo And Juliet Law?

Did you know that in the state of Maine, the age of consent is 16 for sexual acts? This consent law can cause trouble with many people, but that is where the Romeo and Juliet law comes into play. 

This law specifically protects partners less than five years older than their sexual partners. This means that those who are less than five years older than their partner and engage in sexual acts cannot be charged with a sex crime. 

However, it’s important to note that the Romeo and Juliet law only applies to 14 or 15-year-olds engaging in sexual activity. This means that if a person is 17 and engages in sexual relations with a 13-year-old, they won’t be protected by this law. 

In most instances, this law protects young couples in love or sleeping together from jail time because of consensual sex. Minors who can use the Romeo and Juliet law won’t be classified as sex offenders, which means they won’t be punished. Yet, it should be noted that they could still receive minor criminal punishments if both minors are within a few years of one another’s age. 

Let’s have a look at this law in play. In Maine, for example, if a minor is charged with statutory rape, they can use the Romeo and Juliet law if the minor is:

  • Able to legally marry their sexual partner. (This might not include same-sex partners)
  • Not more than three to five years older than their sexual partner. 
  • Not accused of having sexual intercourse with an individual younger than 14. 
  • Not a registered sex offender. 

What Are The Potential Punishments In Maine When The Romeo And Juliet Law Doesn’t Apply?

If a Romeo and Juliet legal defense is rejected, there are many potential punishments if the situation is classified as statutory rape, sexual abuse of a minor, or gross sexual assault. If you or your child is charged with any of these crimes, these are a few of the penalties you could face:

  • Sexual abuse of a minor aged 14 or 15: This is a Class D crime that could lead to up to one year in prison alongside a fine of up to $2,000. However, if the defendant is more than ten years older, it would become a Class C crime with a fine of up to $5,000 and a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. 
  • Gross sexual assault of a child who is younger than 14: This is a Class A crime and is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and a jail sentence of up to 30 years. If it isn’t a Class A, it will be seen as a Class C, meaning an individual charged with this crime could face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in jail.
  • Sexual abuse by a school employee or teacher: This is a Class D or E crime that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in prison. 
  • Unlawful sexual conduct: This crime can either be a Class A or D crime, depending on the victim’s age and if penetrative sex occurred. In Maine, unlawful sexual touching is a Class D crime and carries jail time and a fine. 

This is why properly defending your charges is critical. 

Contact A Maine Sexual Assault Attorney Today To Discuss Whether The Romeo And Juliet Law Applies To Your Case

A lawyer from STEVE SMITH Trial Lawyers can work with you to determine if your child can use the Romeo and Juliet law as a defense. We take these matters seriously and will do everything we can to ensure your child’s freedom and reputation remain intact. So, contact us here, and we can guide you through the legal steps you should follow to get your life back to normal. 

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