Boyfriend ? Or Sex Offender ?

Did you ever think your loving boyfriend, the one whose hand you hold while walking, the one whose calls and texts you wait for to brighten up your day, the one who you'd rather kiss more than anyone else, and perhaps, the one who you have engaged in very private, consensual, loving physical acts with, would be grouped with child molesters and violent rapists ?

If you are a parent, would you ever imagine your child subjected to lengthy prison time, and mandatory sex offender registration for life ? Would you have ever imagined that your child, whom you've loved and raised to be a caring and decent human being, would be subjected to the same horrific accusations, the same legal processing, and punishment as one who preys and defiles the innocent young child ? Or one who has violently and horrifically raped and maimed another ?

If you live in California, this could happen to you or yours more easily than you ever imagined.

We use the masculine terms in this article (son, boyfriend, he, him, and so on) specifically because here in our home state, it is overwhelmingly the male who is put in the position of "defendant". Of course there have been cases where the defendant is a female, or where the case involved a homosexual couple, however, the majority of cases relate to the boyfriend/girlfriend scenario, which we use as an example here.

Did you ever believe that from a loving, consensual relationship, such life-altering consequences would occur ? Currently in California, the same "boyfriend", or same "son/child" that I mention above, can be sentenced to 25+ years in prison, and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration. The same loving person I have described above, will be subjected to the horrors of prison life, undoubtedly changing this person forever, from the young person who once had dreams, goals and aspirations. What of the "lucky" one, who may "dodge a bullet" as far as prison time, and receive jail time instead ? This person would still be on at least 5 years of formal probation, subject (depending on the charges) to "aversion" therapy, forced to wear a GPS tracking device for life, and submit to the mandatory registration.

There are plenty of horror stories, available on the net, as well as in newspapers, and magazines, of young people, all over the country whose once promising lives, have not only been stopped dead in their tracks, but have become an absolute nightmare because of the sex offender registry. With the passage of Megan's Law, the registry is available online for the specific purpose of searching an area, town, or neighborhood to be better informed of any registered sex offenders. Having this tool available, has seemed to make the general public feel safer, knowing the whereabouts of these sex offenders, as well as the ability to steer clear of them.

However, it is not without its faults. The registry doesn't separate, or provide disclosure on the actual crimes of the registrant. So, inevitably, the "boyfriend" who has been convicted of having consensual sex with his "underage" girlfriend (or a teen couple, both underage), is subjected to social stigmas, biases, shunning, and often, outright violence under the mistaken belief that they have committed heinous, terrible crimes on children or women.

Many of these young men are harassed, their homes and vehicles egged, tagged with spray paint, or other forms of property damage. Unfortunately, there are even more serious threats and actions that have been taken. Constant threats from neighbors, or the community, and violent acts have been committed against these young people. Case examples where once the "neighbors" were informed of a young man's actual crime and reason for being on the sex offender list, they were apologetic, remorseful, understanding, and even bewildered, never having realized that these kinds of situations are grouped in with every other sex offender.

However, being remorseful and understanding is hardly enough to recoup what the young people in these situations, and countless others across the state and country have gone through, and continue to experience on a daily basis.

The violence against these young people is perhaps the most serious consequence of the registration, but is barely the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Most times, they are forced to leave college (or are unable to even begin), cannot find housing (no one wants to rent to a sex offender), and in the rare times that they can find housing, it may not be in accordance with the registry (must not be near parks, or schools, or areas where children congregate, etc.), forcing many into a transient lifestyle, which is only furthered by the inability to find a job (no one wants to hire a sex offender). It further complicates any semblance of family life these young people might have. If there are younger family members in the home, the newly designated "sex offender" may not reside in the family home. They also may not be present if any minor children are visiting. They may not attend sport, or any other event which children may be participating, or present at.

These are the facts and the fallout of California's current law. Unfortunately, to question it is a major undertaking. One is suspected of condoning underage sex (we do not), or being "soft" on sex offenders (we absolutely are not). However, we ask you to ask yourself : Does the punishment fit the crime here ? Do we really want to vilify our young people, and subject them to paying for the REST OF THEIR LIVES, for a decision made with their hearts ? Do we, as a state, as citizens, as young people, or parents ourselves, truly believe that this punishment is fair and decent ?

We hope, through the sharing of information, the advocacy of this cause, and the power of the voices of the people, to change this travesty in justice. We hope you will join us.

Unlawful Sex With A Minor - What It Really Means

One of the most common misconceptions we have encountered in our studies, conversations, and networking around the country has been the mistaken idea that Unlawful Sex With A Minor charges apply only to those who have been involved in a relationship in which one partner was a minor, the other partner, an adult (over eighteen years old in California).

It is important to note that Unlawful Sex With A Minor charges include any circumstance in which both partners involved in "consensual" intimate relationships, have been minors, as well.

Many parents, as well as their young teens, were unaware that these charges existed, and were just as serious for two sixteen year olds (for example), or a fourteen and sixteen year old, or any combination of "teens" under the age of eighteen years old.

California law is clear on the fact that anyone under the age of eighteen years old is "incapable" of giving consent, making any intimate contact, even within the context of a loving, boyfriend/girlfriend (or boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, as the case may be) relationship illegal.

Please see our "California Law Statutes" for the precise letter of the law. Educate yourselves, as well as your teens. While teen sexuality may seem a commonplace subject, and teen sexual activity may seem accepted, amongst teens, and in certain circles, "tolerated" to a degree by adults; these charges are extremely serious; their consequences, life altering.

What Is Needed To Convict ? Common Misconceptions

A common misconception amongst teens, as well as some adults, with regard to Romeo and Juliet cases, is that it must be either the underage minor in the relationship or his/her parents that "press charges" in the case.

The truth is that only the District Attorney can actually bring charges against a person to make a case. However, the actual information, or initial "tip" can be passed along to the Police Department by ANYONE.

Countless cases have been charged and prosecuted despite the fact that the minor in question and his/her parents:

-had known of the relationship

-had acknowledged it was consensual in nature

- had actually objected to charges being brought.

Whether or not the other parties object to the bringing of charges is of no consequence, as once it has been reported to the police (and the District Attorney has determined there is enough evidence to bring charges) it becomes the complaint of the state, and is out of the hands of the citizens for good.

While there are mandated reporters; teachers, counselors, doctors, nurses, and daycare providers among them, whose duty it is to report anything of this nature to police, absolutely ANYONE can make a report regarding Sex With A Minor charges.

It is important to note that once charges have been brought, there are only 3 things needed to convict:

1. The "victim's" (legal terminology) initial statement.

2. The "responsibility of assumption" of the "victim's" age by
the defendant.

3. The "victim's" testimony.

Another common misconception is that there must be physical evidence to convict.

Many people assume there must be identifiable DNA (such as a "rape kit", a pregnancy, or other means of identification, such as a shared STD).

However, unlike murder, unlike just about every other type of crime, this "crime" requires absolutely NO physical evidence to convict.

Add to that the Statute of Limitations for "Statutory Rape" and related charges, being up to 3 years in California, and perhaps a picture is beginning to form of just how easily charges can be brought in these Romeo and Juliet cases.

We urge you to read the California Penal Code, as well as the Statutes relevant to these charges for yourself.

Take the time to speak with and educate your teens about the seriousness of these charges, the possible ramifications they may have on their lives, and how relatively easily these charges can be brought.

Each family teaches their own ethics, their own morality, with regards to their teenagers becoming sexually active. But until we can incorporate the facts and fundamentals of teen-related California Sex Crime Law into our student's Sexual Education classes, where we can ensure the broad spectrum of our youth will absolutely be informed; it is our duty as parents and educators to do so.

With the proposed Romeo and Juliet Law for California, we hope to bring a voice of reason to our Sex Crime laws.

We want to save our teens and young adults from mandatory prison sentencing, mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, possible "aversion" therapy, possible lifetime mandatory GPS tracking, and any and all other punishments that were originally created and meant for violent and predatory sex offenses, primarily against children.

Please join us by reading the materials here, sharing with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and signing our petition!

We need to make the California Romeo and Juliet Law a reality, for the sake of all our young people!

California For Romeo and Juliet Law

Unlawful Sex With A Minor Vs. Lewd And Lascivious Conduct - the Differences

Under California law, there are two separate categories that one may be charged in with regard to Romeo and Juliet scenarios.

The first is "Unlawful Sex With A Minor" (formerly known as "Statutory Rape").

The second is the far more serious of the two, "Lewd and Lascivious Conduct".

These are the two main categories from which other charges (such as "Oral Copulation" or "Sexual Battery") may stem.

Although the general subject matter is similar, the distinct definitions, circumstances, and consequences are vastly different.

UNLAWFUL SEX WITH A MINOR (formerly known as "Statutory Rape"):

Unlawful Sex With A Minor charges are the less serious of the two. The basic definition involves an act of engaging in sexual intercourse with a person below the legal age of consent, but above the age of a child (usually determined to be 14 years of age).

An Unlawful Sex With A Minor case can be charged as either a misdemeanor, or a felony. In legal terms, this is what is known as a "wobbler", and largely depends on the age of the minor involved as to how it will be charged.

With a minor not more than 3 years older or 3 years younger than the accused:

MISDEMEANOR/ Up to 1 year in County Jail/ $1000 in fines.

With a minor more than 3 years younger:

MISDEMEANOR or FELONY/ 1 year in County Jail or State Prison/ $1000-$10,000 in fines.

When the accused is 21 years of age and minor is 16 years of age or younger:

MISDEMEANOR or FELONY/ 1 year in County Jail OR 2,3, or 4 years in State Prison / $1000-$10,000 in fines.

"Consent" is not a defense to these charges, as California law deems that anyone under 18 years of age (a minor) is incapable of giving consent.

All of these convictions require probation/parole.

Unlike the more serious Lewd and Lascivious charges, Unlawful Sex With A Minor DOES have a provision that says if one honestly and reasonably believed that the alleged "victim" was over the age of 18 at the time, one CANNOT be convicted under this law.

The three requirements to prove this are:

Statements made by the "victim" that he/she was over 18 years of age.

General appearance or attire of "victim"(leading one to believe they were older).

Where the accused met the "victim" (as in an adult venue, such as an 18 and over club, or at an adult party).

However, these requirements, in many cases, are hard to prove.

If convicted of Unlawful Sex With A Minor in California, the law does NOT require Sex Offender Registration.


Lewd and Lascivious Conduct charges are by far the more serious of the two.

The main reason someone in a Romeo and Juliet case would be charged with Lewd and Lascivious Conduct RATHER than Unlawful Sex With A Minor, is the age, as well as the age difference, of and between the minor and the adult.

Lewd and Lascivious Conduct involves touching a minor anywhere on the body (even on the outside of the clothing) "with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of either party".

Each independent act (each touch to different parts of the body, whether they are sexual parts or not) is counted as an "act", or a "count". This means that even if there were only one occasion, or one "incident", several "acts" could be charged.

Sexual Intercourse is not required to be charged under this law.

A Lewd and Lascivious charge is always a Felony charge.

Involving a Minor, below 14 years old/ 3, 6, or 8 years in State Prison/$10,000 in fines.

Parole/Possible GPS tracking device/Possible psychotherapy or behavior modification.

Mandatory Lifetime Sex Offender Registration.

Mistaken belief in the minor's age is NOT a defense to this charge.

"Consent" is not a defense, as California law deems that anyone under the age of 18 years old (a minor), is incapable of giving consent.

Although the exact definition of this law varies from state to state, in California, Lewd and Lascivious Conduct can be comprised of many different charges.

Prostitution, pornography, indecent acts, indecent exposure and co-habitating with an unmarried partner in a sexual relationship (this one is rarely used any more), all fall under the Lewd and Lascivious law.

Validity of the Victim's Testimony Clause

We have recently received mail regarding the question of the validity of the "Victim's Testimony Clause".

The victim's testimony is one of three things needed to convict someone in California in an Underage Sex With A Minor, or Lewd and Lascivious Conduct case.

It happens quite frequently in cases that would fall under the Romeo and Juliet Law, were California to have one, that the "victim" will refuse to testify against their boyfriend or girlfriend. There is a clause in California law that prevents the victim having to testify if it is deemed that their participation in testimony would be detrimental to said victim.

However, it is not often that this clause is upheld. Any aggressive district attorney will subpoena the victim, or at least their testimony (whether or not it is in open court or by deposition). In these cases, the testimony must be given, and to do it by deposition bypasses the clause in that it is reasoned that behind closed doors it is somehow less detrimental or traumatic.

Therefore, it is almost unheard of that the victim's testimony will not be taken, in one form or another, whether the victim initially wishes to grant it to the court or not.

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