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These close-in-age exemption laws, sometimes known as Romeo and Juliet laws, may reduce the severity of the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor; reduce the penalty to a fine, probation or community service; and eliminate the requirement that the convicted adult register as a sex offender. For example, in New Jersey, the age of consent is 16, but individuals who are 13 or older may legally engage in sexual activity if their partner is less than four years older than they are.
In California, it's a misdemeanor to have sex with someone younger than 18 if the offender is less than three years older, while someone more than three years older could be charged with a felony.
Any of these people will have committed a crime when they engage in sexual conduct with an individual they have authority over, even if that person is above the age of consent.
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer.
She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and Health Central.
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If you are charged and found guilty of having sex with a person who is younger than the statutory age of consent, you face the possibility of incarceration.If you're concerned about breaking laws on underage dating, the first thing to know is that no such laws exist.However, you should be aware of statutory rape laws if you're dating someone younger than the legal age of consent in your state.Most statutory rape laws exist to punish an adult who takes sexual advantage of a minor, not to punish two people close in age who have consensual sex.This means an adult who is only a couple of years older than the minor may not be charged with statutory rape or be punished as harshly as a much older adult.
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