New Law Decriminalizes Some Underage Teenage Sex in Indiana
Ah, youth has its privileges. Indiana got on board the “Romeo and Juliet” train in deciding to pass Public Law 216 into being. This new law creates a legal defense, nicknamed the “Romeo and Juliet defense,” against criminal charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. The law went into effect July 1. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) (always ready to support underage teen sex when it involves two or more irresponsible, immature, and mostly self centered kids) supported and helped write the new defense. Executive Director Stephen J. Johnson of the IPAC, quite possibly thrilled to his penis about imagining all the sexually active boys and girls “getting it on” pledged the change doesn’t lower the age of consent. It simply “modifies” a 1994 law that made sexual misconduct with a minor a criminal offense separate from child molesting. It is reportedly a better way of dealing with teenage sexuall activity. “We did not view the new defense as a radical change in the law; rather it created what we believed was a relatively narrow defense for certain sexual acts among young people over the age which would qualify for child molestation,” Johnson happily proclaimed.
This magical “Get out of jail” free defense, courtesy of your Legislature, can be asserted if the adult or kid being accused of having sexual contact with a 14- or 15-year-old is under 21, is no more than four years older than the would be victim and was involved in a dating or “ongoing personal” relationship with the victim at the time.
Indiana Code 35-42-4-9 is the section of Indiana law that details exactly what is sexual misconduct with a minor and just exactly what the Romeo and Juliet defense is and is not in exacting detail. In certain circumstances an adult at least 18 years of age and older can assert up to two (2) defenses:
1. “…that the accused person reasonably believed that the child was at least sixteen (16) years of age at the time of the conduct.” or
2. “…that the child is or has ever been married.”
but, in those circumstances where the adult/kid is under the age of twenty-one (21), the Romeo and Juliet defense can be asserted. This defense (word for word) states:
(e) It is a defense to a prosecution under this section if all the following apply:
(1) The person is not more than four (4) years older than the victim.
(2) The relationship between the person and the victim was a dating relationship or an ongoing personal relationship. The term “ongoing personal relationship” does not include a family relationship.
(3) The crime:
(A) was not committed by a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
(B) was not committed by using or threatening the use of deadly force;
(C) was not committed while armed with a deadly weapon;
(D) did not result in serious bodily injury;
(E) was not facilitated by furnishing the victim, without the victim’s knowledge, with a drug (as defined in IC 16-42-19-2(1) ) or a controlled substance (as defined in IC 35-48-1-9 ) or knowing that the victim was furnished with the drug or controlled substance without the victim’s knowledge; and
(F) was not committed by a person having a position of authority or substantial influence over the victim.
(4) The person has not committed another sex offense (as defined in IC 11-8-8-5.2 ) (including a delinquent act that would be a sex offense if committed by an adult) against any other person.