24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Client Testimonials



The BEST LAWYER ANYONE COULD ASK FOR!!! Todd changed our lives! He’s not JUST a lawyer representing us for a case. Todd and his office have become Family. When we entered his office in August of 2022, we entered with such anxiety, uncertainty, and so much stress. Honestly we were very lost. My husband and I felt alone. How could a lawyer who didn’t know us, know our family, know our background represents us, When this could change our lives for the next 5-7years that my husband was facing in Federal jail. By the time our free consultation was over with Todd, we left his office at ease. All our questions were answered and we had a sense of relief.

schedule a consultation


Romeo and Juliet Laws Oklahoma

March 21, 2024

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Oklahoma

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Oklahoma

The laws around statutory rape and age of consent in Oklahoma can be pretty confusing. There are a lot of intricacies and specifics to understand. This article will break down Oklahoma’s Romeo and Juliet laws, explaining what they are, how they work, who they protect, and more.

What is Statutory Rape?

First, let’s define statutory rape. Statutory rape is when someone over the age of consent engages in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent. The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16 years old[1]. So if someone over 16 has sex with someone under 16, it is considered statutory rape.

Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, meaning that consent is not a defense. It doesn’t matter if the younger person consented or even lied about their age – if they are under 16 and the other person is over 16, it is statutory rape.

Statutory rape is a felony in Oklahoma. If convicted, it carries penalties of 1-15 years in prison[6].

What are Romeo and Juliet Laws?

Romeo and Juliet laws are provisions that provide defenses or exemptions to statutory rape charges in certain circumstances. The name comes from Shakespeare’s young lovers Romeo and Juliet, who were teenagers from feuding families but fell in love anyway.

The intent behind Romeo and Juliet laws is to avoid criminalizing consensual sexual relationships between teenagers who are close in age. While lawmakers still want to protect younger minors from predatory adults, they recognize that teens often engage in consensual relationships, and it would be unjust to prosecute them as sex offenders.

Oklahoma’s Romeo and Juliet Law

Oklahoma has a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between teenagers who are both over 14 but under 18 years old[2]. This close-in-age exemption can be used as an affirmative defense against statutory rape charges.

Here are the specifics of Oklahoma’s law[4]:

  • Both people must be between 14-17 years old
  • There can be no more than a 3-year age difference between them
  • The sexual contact must be consensual

So for example, a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old could legally consent to sex. Or a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old. But an 18-year-old and a 14-year-old could not use the Romeo and Juliet defense, because there is more than a 3-year gap.

Using the Romeo and Juliet Defense

Let’s say you are charged with statutory rape in Oklahoma. If you and your partner were both within the Romeo and Juliet age range, you can raise that as an affirmative defense.

An affirmative defense means that you are not denying the charges, but arguing that extenuating circumstances make you not guilty of the crime. You would say something like “Yes we had sex and I am over 16 while they were under 16, but we qualify for the close-in-age exemption so I should not be convicted of statutory rape.”

To use this defense, you have the burden of proof to show that:

  • You and your partner were both between 14-17 years old
  • There was less than a 3-year age gap between you
  • The sexual contact was consensual

If you can demonstrate all this, the charges against you should be dropped or reduced. Your lawyer will also look for any other defenses that could apply, such as if your partner lied about their age.

Limits of the Romeo and Juliet Law

While the Romeo and Juliet law provides some protections for consensual teenage relationships, there are still limits. Some key things to understand:

  • It only applies to vaginal intercourse – not other sexual acts
  • There is still a 3-year age gap limit
  • It does not apply if one person is under 14
  • There can be no positions of authority or trust (e.g. teacher/student)

Additionally, while the Romeo and Juliet defense can prevent criminal liability, you could still face other consequences like parental discipline, school discipline, or civil lawsuits.

Examples of the Law in Practice

Here are some examples to illustrate how Oklahoma’s Romeo and Juliet law works:

  • Example 1: 16-year-old and 15-year-old have sex. This is legal under the R&J law.
  • Example 2: 17-year-old and 14-year-old have sex. Legal, less than 3-year gap.
  • Example 3: 18-year-old and 15-year-old have sex. Illegal, more than 3-year gap.
  • Example 4: 19-year-old and 16-year-old have sex. Illegal, one person is over 18.

As you can see, the closer in age the people are and the younger they both are, the more likely the Romeo and Juliet law will protect them from prosecution.

Public Policy Behind Romeo and Juliet Laws

There are good public policy reasons for Romeo and Juliet laws. Prosecuting and jailing teenagers for having consensual relationships seems unjust. Treating them as sex offenders can severely impact their lives. Romeo and Juliet laws aim to strike a balance.

However, some argue these laws still don’t go far enough. For example, some states will prosecute an 18-year-old for having sex with a 16-year-old. But is an 18-year-old really a sexual predator for having a relationship with a mature 16-year-old? Reasonable minds can disagree on where exactly the line should be drawn.

Criticisms and Controversies

Romeo and Juliet laws have their critics. Some argue that:

  • They undermine strict statutory rape laws designed to protect youth
  • They could shield sexual predators who manipulate just-underage teens
  • They discriminate based on sexual orientation, as same-sex couples may not qualify
  • They create confusion and perverse incentives around age cutoffs

These are all valid concerns worth debating. There are cases of predators using Romeo and Juliet laws to escape charges. Overall though, most laws aim to balance public safety with fairness for consensual relationships.

Other Close-in-Age Exemptions

In addition to the Romeo and Juliet law, Oklahoma has other close-in-age exemptions:

  • 12 and 13-year-olds can consent to sex with a partner up to 2 years older
  • 14 and 15-year-olds can consent to sex with a partner up to 4 years older

So a 13-year-old and 15-year-old could legally have sex. Or a 15-year-old and 19-year-old. These provisions are designed to provide some flexibility for young teenagers exploring intimacy.

Federal Laws May Still Apply

Even if you comply with Oklahoma’s Romeo and Juliet law, you could still potentially face federal charges. Federal law makes it illegal to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of sex. So if you travel to another state with your underage partner, you risk federal prosecution.

Speak to a Lawyer Before Taking Action

I’ve aimed to explain Oklahoma’s Romeo and Juliet laws in an easy to understand way. But there are always specifics and complexities in the law, so it’s important speak to an attorney before taking any action that could be illegal. They can advise you on the nuances of consent laws and develop the best defense strategy if you face charges.

Statutory rape and age of consent laws aim to protect young people from predators. But they can unfairly punish teenagers exploring consensual relationships. Romeo and Juliet laws attempt to strike a fair balance. While not perfect, they provide important defenses for young people caught in the complex web of statutory rape laws.


[1] Age of Consent & Statutory Rape in Oklahoma

[2] What Are “Romeo and Juliet” Laws in Oklahoma?

[3] How Does The Romeo And Juliet Law Impact The Age of Consent in Oklahoma?

[4] Consent Laws Oklahoma – RAINN

[5] Statutory Rape Defense Lawyer

[6] Age of Consent and Statutory Rape in Oklahoma

Lawyers You Can Trust

Todd Spodek

Founding Partner

view profile



view profile


Associate Attorney

view profile



view profile



view profile



view profile



view profile

Criminal Defense Lawyers Trusted By the Media

schedule a consultation
Schedule Your Consultation Now