There is a segment of sex offenders who are required to register and subject to the same stigma as rapists but who believe they aren’t getting a fair shake. This group is made up of people who had a relationship with a younger partner and who were convicted of a sex offense for it. Now those offenders may have the opportunity to get their name dropped from the sex offender registry.
Called the “Romeo and Juliet Law”, this law was designed for people who were in consensual relationships with a younger partner. According to lawmakers, when they voted on the issue, some testimonies were given by people who were convicted of the offense, required to register, and later married the person with whom they were having sexual relations.
All sex offenses carry a serious stigma. And because you are required to register on a public database, you can bet that you will be judged by neighbors, acquaintances, and anyone else who knows of your conviction. “People want to know who did I rape and they think I am the one hiding out in the bushes,” says one offender who qualifies under the new law.
Under this new legislation, offenders must petition the state and can only qualify if the relationship was consensual, there is fewer than 4 years age difference, and the minor was at least 15 years old at the time of the offense.
Lawmakers hope this will allow some to move on with their lives while freeing up resources to deal with the “truly dangerous offenders.” Because all sex offenders must be registered, enforcement was meted out whether you were a dangerous, violent rapist, or someone who had a high school sweetheart a few years younger than you.
Being accused of any type of sexual offense can be very scary because you know the penalties go far beyond fines and prison time. This truly is a conviction you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. Whether you are convicted of online solicitation of a minor or sexual assault, you will have to register as a sex offender and carry that label forever.
Such cases are particularly difficult for all parties involved. You may even know your accuser, which can make things even trickier.
If you are accused of a sex offense in Texas, contact us to speak with a local criminal defense lawyer for help.