14-year-old may be branded sex offender for sex with teen girlfriend, lawyer says

A 14-year-old Texas boy may have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after having sex with his 12-year-old girlfriend, the teen’s attorney alleged.

Joseph Gutheinz, the child’s lawyer, told the Houston Chronicle that his client was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. The girlfriend was in the sixth grade at the time. The accused was a seventh-grader.

Though “Romeo and Juliet” laws protect juveniles who have consensual sex with someone three years their junior from prosecution, the rule doesn’t apply if one of the parties is under 14.

“The idea that a 14-year-old who has sex with a person just a little bit younger than him or her would be treated as the worst of the worst in our society and placed on the sex offender registry is really sick.”

Gutheinz believed this criminal case is distorting the objective of “Romeo and Juliet” laws. The attorney offered a compelling argument: The defendant wouldn’t be charged if his girlfriend was the same age as him—and he would be considered a victim if his girlfriend was over 18.

“If he has sex with someone who is younger by just days but is still 13 years old, he could be charged with one of the most serious offenses we have,” he said. “It just blows my mind.”

The teen’s mother claimed the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is going to “ruin his life” for having sex two months after turning 14. She also said her son loved his girlfriend and that the family “is going through hell” since his arrest.

She asked, “What kind of life is he going to have if he’s a sex offender?”



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