A recent high-profile case in Florida is illustrating just how complex teenage romance can become when young people decide to become physically intimate with each other. The defendant in this high-profile case has received a great deal of support from around the nation for one interesting reason. She is an 18-year-old charged with sex crimes related to an intimate relationship she had with a 14-year-old girl.
Some are painting the case as a lesbian “Juliet and Juliet” scenario, given that the case has escalated in part due to the objections that the 14-year-old’s parents have vocalized in regards to the girls’ relationship. The defendant has insisted that the sex she had with her girlfriend was consensual. However, when statutory rape laws define sex with a minor of a certain age and an individual aged 18 or older as rape, it does not matter if the sex was consensual and it does not matter what gender the parties are.
It is important that Florida teens learn from the hard legal realities being exposed in this case. No matter how much the public may rally around young love, sex crime laws are often harsh when applied to well-meaning teens. In the Juliet and Juliet case, the defendant is being offered a plea deal that would not include sex offender registration requirements or jail time. The defendant in this case must now decide whether to accept or reject her plea deal. However, many teens caught in the same scenario are not offered such opportunities. They are often branded as sex offenders for life.
Source: New York Daily News, “Florida teen offered new plea deal over same-sex relationship with underage girlfriend,” Aug. 15, 2013