As soon as I do a post like this, I normally have to revise it when someone points out something I missed. And since I've already screwed up "shoots and killed" and "stabbed" in today's Random Thoughts, I'm already on dangerous ground. But here goes.
The Star-Telegram ran an article about a new law which is expected to be signed by Gov. Perry that will revamp Texas sexual registration laws. Specifically, it will exempt a teenager from registering in consensual sex cases when the "victim" is 15 years of age or older and the defendant is within four years of age of the victim. (Bill text.) The story said, "The bill by Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, and Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is designed to spare teenagers and young adults who engaged in consensual sex from being branded as sex offenders. The measure was dubbed the 'Romeo and Juliet' bill when it was introduced in the 2009 Legislature."
The first crazy thing is that the law actually amended the law which already allowed teenagers to be exempt from registration if the defendant was under 19 and the victim was at least 13. (See text again. Underlined means new text while stricken language indicates deletion.) So this amendment offers less protection, right? Am I missing something?
Now you want to really have a headache? The Romeo and Juliet law only refers to whether someone has to register if they have been convicted or placed on probation for a sexually related crime. So get this: It currently is not a crime at all if the consensual sex was between a victim of 14 years of age or older and the defendant is within three years of age of the victim. (See Penal Code 22.11(b) and 22.011(e).) This has not changed. So the number of people who will be impacted by the new Romeo and Juliet registration law are few and far between. Think about it: You'd have to have a victim who is 15 or 16 (the law doesn't apply for someone under 15 and 17 is the age of consent in Texas), and the defendant would have to be between three and four years older than the victim. (If the defendant were within three years it wouldn't be a crime to start with).
Now look at the first paragraph of this Channel 11 story which completely confuses the difference between not being required to register and not being a crime at all:
at 9:26 AM