“Romeo and Juliet Law” in Arizona

Teen couple.

“Romeo and Juliet Law” in Arizona

The legal age of consent for sexual conduct in the state of Arizona is 18. This means that any sexual encounter with someone who is 17 years old or younger is considered nonconsensual and, therefore, illegal.

So what happens when 17 and 18 year old high-school sweethearts have sex with each other? Without a defense allowing for a close-in-age exemption, the 18 year old could be charged with a sex crime like sexual misconduct with a minor, as described in A.R.S. 13-1405. This would be a felony.

In Arizona, when two individuals under the age of legal consent are charged with sex crimes, they can find a legal defense for their charges under what is colloquially known as the “Romeo and Juliet” law. Per A.R.S. 14-1407, the defendant can provide a defense for a charge of having sex with a minor if the following elements applied:

  • The victim involved (the minor) was 15, 16, or 17 years old.
  • The defendant was no more than two years older than the victim.
  • The defendant was less than 19 years old and/or a high school student.
  • The sex was consensual.

This defense only applies in cases of aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation and sexual conduct with a minor (statutory rape).

It cannot be used in cases that involve other sex crimes, such as sexual assault, indecent exposure, and child molestation.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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