A 14-year-old Texas boy could face spending the rest of his life as a registered sex offender after he was arrested for having sex with his 12-year-old girlfriend.
He has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a minor — which is a first degree felony that could land him on the sex offender registry.
The age of consent in Texas is 17, but the law carves out a special provision for minors. Under the Romeo and Juliet law, a 17-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old. It doesn’t apply if either party is under 14.
“When a 17-year-old has sex with a 14-year-old, you get a pass,” the teen’s attorney, Joseph Gutheinz, told the Daily News. “But if you are 14 years old and the boy or girl is 12 years old, then you are charged with the worst offense that any state has,” he said.
Gutheinz thinks the law should extend to defendants like his client.
“If you are going to give a pass to a 17-year-old who has sex with a 14-year-old, why not give a pass to a 14-year-old who is still within three years of age of the girl but who is more immature?” Gutheinz said. “It’s a crazy breakdown of logic.”
He argued that the law as written unfairly penalizes kids who are close in age and have consensual sex.
“The context can be just as consensual, loving, holding hands and it turns into something else, yet for the 14-year-old that has sex with someone younger, he is a criminal,” Gutheinz said. “All of a sudden he is a predator.”
Gutheinz is fighting for the teen to avoid registering as a sex offender.
“When you put him on the sex registry, that is too far. That is not trying to enforce good behavior. That is trying to destroy lives and that’s the problem I have with it.”
We’re not sure what the appropriate punishment is here, but a kid spending the rest of his adult life as a registered sex offender seems a bit harsh — don’t you think?