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In May 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Dixon’s conviction, stating that he should’ve been prosecuted on the lesser charge of misdemeanor statutory rape, which carries a maximum sentence of one year.He walked out of prison on May 3, 2004, at age 19, a free man.Whether you agree with this outcome or not, the fact remains that statutory rape is considered a serious crime, enforceable to the full extent of the law in many states – and can change the course of a teenager’s life forever.A Hot Topic Among Teens The recent discovery that 16-year-old actress Jamie Lynn Spears, the sister of pop star Britney Spears, became pregnant by her 18-year-old boyfriend has again turned consensual sex among teens into a hotly contested issue.Research shows that teenage girls tend to have their first sexual experience with male partners who are three or more years older.In one study, researchers discovered that girls who’d had an older boyfriend by seventh grade were twice as likely to have had sex by ninth grade as girls who’d had a same-age boyfriend by seventh grade.Although there is no public talk of prosecution, and much of the case would depend on where and when the sexual activity took place, onlookers have questioned whether Spears’ boyfriend could be charged with statutory rape, even though the two were in a long-term, consensual relationship.
Upon his release from prison, Dixon enrolled at Hampton University in Virginia with a football scholarship.Depending on the state, Romeo and Juliet laws may reduce the severity of the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, reduce the penalty to a fine, probation, or community service, and/or eliminate the requirement that the convicted adult register as a sex offender.The following are just a few examples of Romeo and Juliet laws currently in place in the United States: Exceptions and Other Considerations In addition to Romeo and Juliet laws, some states have specific exemptions when both parties to the sexual act are minors, or the person to be charged is legally married to the minor.But if these teens are having sex, and you live in a state where prosecutors aggressively enforce the law, it’s possible that your son could be charged with statutory rape.
Take, for example, the widely publicized case of Marcus Dwayne Dixon, an 18-year-old high school honor student and star football player who had sex with a 15-year-old female classmate.
Your 18-year-old son is dating a 16-year-old female classmate – no big deal, right?