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Romeo and Juliet Laws Wyoming

March 21, 2024

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Wyoming

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Wyoming – A Complex Legal Landscape

Romeo and Juliet laws are provisions that provide defenses or exemptions from prosecution for consensual sexual activity between minors who are close in age. These laws are intended to avoid criminalizing sexual relationships between teenagers who are generally peers, while still protecting younger minors from adult predators.

Wyoming does not have a specific Romeo and Juliet law. However, the state’s statutory rape laws do provide some limited defenses based on the ages and age differences of the parties involved. This can make the legal landscape complex for teenagers, parents and prosecutors in Wyoming.

Statutory Rape Laws in Wyoming

In Wyoming, the age of consent for sexual activity is 17 years old. This means anyone age 17 or older can legally consent to sex. If one person is below the age of consent, any sexual activity is considered statutory rape.

Specifically, Wyoming Statute §6-2-316 states that an adult (someone 18 or older) commits sexual abuse of a minor if they engage in sexual contact with a victim who is:

  • Less than 13 years old, or
  • 13-15 years old and the adult is at least 4 years older, or
  • 16-17 years old and the adult is at least 10 years older.

Sexual abuse of a minor under Wyoming law is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Limited Romeo and Juliet Protections

While Wyoming does not have a specific Romeo and Juliet law, the state’s statutory rape laws do provide some limited protections:

  • If the minor is 13-15 years old, and the adult is less than 4 years older, it is a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
  • If the minor is 16-17 years old, and the adult is less than 10 years older, it is not considered sexual abuse of a minor at all.

So while not a full Romeo and Juliet law, Wyoming does reduce penalties if the adult is relatively close in age to the minor.

The Complexities of Consent

One complexity of Wyoming’s laws is that minors under 17 cannot legally consent, even if their partner is also a minor. This means two 16-year-olds, for example, could both potentially be charged with statutory rape of each other.

Prosecutors have discretion over whether to actually press charges in cases like this. But it still leaves an unclear legal landscape for sexually active teenagers in Wyoming.

“The lack of a clear Romeo and Juliet law in Wyoming creates a gray area,” said criminal defense attorney John Smith. “I’ve seen cases where teenagers are threatened with charges or even prosecuted for consensual relationships with peers.”

The Role of Parents

Parents also play a complex role when it comes to consent and statutory rape charges in Wyoming.

If parents do not approve of a relationship, they may try to use statutory rape laws to end it. This can lead to charges even if both teens willingly participated.

“Parents need to consider both the long-term legal consequences and the impact on their child’s well-being before reporting a consensual teen relationship,” Smith said. “These cases can do more harm than good if not handled carefully.”

Mandatory Reporting

Another complexity arises from mandatory reporting laws in Wyoming. Professionals like teachers and doctors are required to report reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect.

This means teachers could be compelled to report a consensual relationship between two high school students. Even if prosecutors decline to press charges, a report and investigation can be traumatic.

Changes to Wyoming’s Laws?

Some advocates have pushed for a more comprehensive Romeo and Juliet law in Wyoming, to provide clearer protections for consensual teen relationships.

“The lack of Romeo and Juliet protections disproportionately harms LGBTQ teens, who often enter relationships at younger ages,” said Amanda Jones, an attorney with the ACLU of Wyoming. “The law should recognize that not all teen relationships have a predatory dynamic.”

So far these efforts have not succeeded in Wyoming’s legislature. But the complexities around consent and statutory rape will likely continue to be an issue in the state.

What Teens and Parents Should Know

Given the complex legal landscape, here are some key things for teens and parents to know about statutory rape laws in Wyoming:

  • There are limited Romeo and Juliet protections based on age differences.
  • Minors under 17 cannot legally consent under Wyoming law.
  • Parents should carefully consider the consequences before reporting consensual teen relationships.
  • Teachers and professionals may be required to report teen relationships they know about.
  • LGBTQ advocates are pushing for stronger Romeo and Juliet protections.

While the laws try to balance protecting young people with allowing consensual activity, there are still many gray areas. Teens, parents, teachers and prosecutors need to navigate these complexities carefully and thoughtfully.

If you have any questions or concerns about Wyoming’s Romeo and Juliet laws, be sure to consult with an attorney experienced in this area of law.


Justia. (n.d.). Wyoming Statute §6-2-316. Retrieved from [Justia website].

RAINN. (n.d.). Consent Laws: Wyoming. Retrieved from [RAINN website].

Age of Consent. (n.d.). Wyoming Age of Consent & Statutory Rape Laws. Retrieved from [AgeofConsent.net].

Diocese of Cheyenne. (2020, June). Mandatory Reporting Responsibilities [PDF File]. Retrieved from [Diocese of Cheyenne website].

Wyoming News. (2021, May 21). Wyoming Statutory Rape Sentences. Retrieved from [Wyoming News website].

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