Kansas teens lack protections provided by Romeo and Juliet laws


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In Kansas, there are currently no close-in-age exemption laws, sometimes referred to as Romeo and Juliet laws.

Everyone is familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet—in essence, young love. What many may not know about are the laws put in place with the same name.

Close-in-age exemptions, more commonly referred to as “Romeo and Juliet laws” are sexual consent laws put in place to keep individuals who are close in age to each other who have consensual sexual activity from being prosecuted if one or both partners are below the age of consent.

As per ageofconsent.net, there are close-in-age exemptions in over half of states in our country, with laws varying from state-to-state.

In Kansas, the age of consent is 16. However, there are not close-in-age exemptions in effect in our state.

This means that individuals aged 15 or younger in Kansas cannot legally consent to sexual activity of any kind. Participation in such activity may lead to statutory rape charges.

Statutory rape is defined as consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16. Because the individual(s) is/are not of the age of consent, their consent has no legal value.

As previously stated, no close in age exemptions exist in Kansas, but punishment for statutory rape may vary depending on age and age difference of partners.

These close-in-age exemptions were created specifically to protect young people from the consequences of violating age of consent laws. Such violations could label these young people as sex offenders for life for having consensual sexual activity with their significant other.

According to ageofconsent.net, this lack of Romeo and Juliet laws means that although it is rare, it is possible for “two individuals who are under the age of 16 (the Kansas age of consent) who willingly engage in intercourse to both be prosecuted for statutory rape.”