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Equalizing access to the “Romeo & Juliet” Defense

HB 71 – Gonzalez, M
SB 492 – Whitmire
It is a felony in Texas to engage in sexual contact with a person under the age of 17. However the law creates an “out” in situations where the contact was consensual, the parties involved are over the age of 14, the parties are within three years of each other’s age and are of the opposite sex. This is a logical approach to the reality that adolescents sometimes make sexual decisions that adults may wish they hadn’t made, but that adolescents have been making since the beginning of time. This “out” does not exist for teen sweethearts who are dating someone of the same sex creating a risk that a teenager may be sent to prison and forced to register as a sex offender for becoming physical with their sweetheart.