What Is Arizona’s Romeo and Juliet Law?

arizona romeo and juliet law -- two young people holding hands

What Is Arizona’s Romeo and Juliet Law?

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If there is one play that William Shakespeare is known for, it is probably “Romeo and Juliet.” Almost everyone is familiar with this tale of tragic young lovers, either from reading it in high school or college, seeing a live theatrical performance, or watching a movie adaptation.

Did you know Arizona has a law named after this famous play? However, Arizona’s “Romeo and Juliet” law has nothing to do with feuding families or true love. Instead, the Romeo and Juliet Law in Arizona regards the age of consent for sexual contact and intercourse. This law may play a role if a person has been charged with statutory rape. 

What Is the Romeo and Juliet Law? 

In the state of Arizona, legal statute ARS 13-1405 states a person must be 18 years of age or older to consent to sexual contact or intercourse. Arizona law considers charges under ARS 13-1405 to be statutory rape, or sexual intercourse with a minor

The age of the victim determines the severity of the charges: 

  • If the victim is under 15 years of age, the defendant faces a Class 2 felony.
  • If the victim is at least 15 years of age, the charges may stay at a Class 2 felony or be reduced to a Class 6 felony, depending on the defendant’s relationship with the victim.

Although the age of consent is 18, Arizona’s Romeo and Juliet Law applies if both people involved are between the ages of 15 and 19. Under the Romeo and Juliet Law in Arizona, sexual partners between the ages of 15 and 19 may have consensual sex if they are no more than two years apart in age from each other. 

It’s important to note the Romeo and Juliet Law does not apply if:

  • One of the minors involved is under the age of 15
  • There are more than two years of age between the two minors

Understanding Age of Consent in Arizona

If you find yourself charged with statutory rape in Arizona, you may not only face years of prison time and large fines, but also face being labeled a sexual predator and placed on the sexual offender registry. These consequences could have a major impact on the rest of your life

If you are 19 years old or younger, it’s important to fully understand Arizona’s Romeo and Juliet Law and how it might affect your case. A certified criminal law specialist like Todd Coolidge can walk you through your options for the best outcome possible. 

Contact our offices for an appointment today at 602-795-0770 in Phoenix or 480-264-5111 in Chandler. 

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

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