Accused of Sex Crimes Involving a Minor? A Closer Look at NC’s Romeo and Juliet Laws

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I am charged by campus police could I still face jail time or probation?”


Being accused of child molestation is no light offense. There are serious and considerably heavy punishments following a conviction. Being accused of child sex crimes can drastically change your life professionally, and can sever or strain interpersonal relationships, causing serious distress.


romeo-y-julieta-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Sex-Crimes-Defense-Lawyer-300x200In North Carolina, there are laws that take into account the nuances of an age difference between two intimate partners, and there are solutions in the case that you have been wrongly accused. Today, we take a closer look into our state’s Romeo and Juliet laws.


What Do All These Terms Mean?


It is helpful to understand the differences between sexual molestation of a child and statutory rape. Statutory rape revolves around a sexual relationship with a minor who is past the age of puberty. Accusations of this nature typically involve sex between a legal adult and a minor, as determined by each state’s laws regarding consent.


The age of consent is each state’s determined age where maturity and reasoning for sex are considered consensual. Due to a state’s age of consent potentially differing from another state’s, each statutory rape law may differ.


Child molestation is a more heavily punished crime, involving sex with a minor who is prepubescent. Similarly, any depiction of a child engaging in sexual acts or in sexual nature is equally punishable.


Romeo and Juliet Laws in NC


In North Carolina, an individual reaches the age of consent at 16. In addition, North Carolina also does have exemptions for those who are close in age, better known as Romeo and Juliet laws. In North Carolina, a legal adult may not always necessarily qualify for statutory rape accusations and the punishments that follow it due to the specific details of these laws.


The Romeo and Juliet Law in North Carolina states that the maximum age difference between a minor (that is, someone who is under the age of consent, or aged 15 years or younger) and an adult is four years. The law also makes exemptions for those who had already been legally married. If an individual decides to marry his or her sexual partner, and they are under the age of 16, then the law does not consider this to be an illegal relationship.


One exception to this is if one party works in the K-12 school system. Even if they fall within the age brackets permitted by North Carolina’s Romeo and Juliet Laws, they would still likely be charged as a sexual offender.


What to Do if Accused of Sex Crimes Involving a Minor


If you have been accused of sex crimes relating to a minor, the first step must be to remain calm. Once calmed and composed, the immediate next step should be to contact a trusted local attorney with experience in sex crimes.


Accused of Sex Crimes? Contact Our Office Today


Sex crimes of any sort are not slight or mild accusations to face. The stress alone from the accusations can disrupt one’s mental well-being, as well as the individual’s relationships. Work can be affected by the presence of accusations, and without the proper legal help, serious, likely life-altering punishments may be unjustly inflicted.


At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand that accusations of sex crimes are particularly nerve-racking, and as such we are ready to listen and help you. For any questions regarding sex crimes and your rights when accused of one, get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.





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