You are currently viewing What is Florida’s Romeo & Juliet Law?

There is a potential way of avoiding the sex offender registry, which is commonly referred to as the Florida Romeo & Juliet law.  A person living in Florida who has been convicted of certain sex offenses is required to register with the state as a sex offender, even if the original conviction occurred in another state.  That person’s name appears on the statewide Sex Offender Registry database, and is a public record available by searching the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sexual offenders and predators website.  The person must register with law enforcement in the county of his or her residence.  Failure to register is a felony charge in Florida, potentially punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

The Florida Romeo & Juliet law is spelled out in statute 943.04354, and allows the court to remove the requirement to register as a sex offender in special circumstances.  Those special circumstances are fairly limited, and the following conditions are required:

  • The victim of the crime was 13 years of age or older at the time of the offense, but younger than 18 years of age;
  • The registered offender was not more than 4 years older than the victim at the time of the offense;
  • The registered offender has never been previously convicted of a similar offense;
  • That removal of the registration requirement will not conflict with federal law that requires that the sexual act be consensual;

Assuming those criteria are met, the person may file a petition for removal from the sex offender registry in the Florida court where the offense occurred.  In cases where the sex offense occurred in another state, the petition should be filed in the Florida jurisdiction where he or she resides.  The State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement must be provided with a copy of the petition at least 21 days prior to the hearing date.

Assuming the petition meets all of the criteria specified above and is properly filed, the critical issue which the circuit court judge must determine at the time of the hearing is whether the case involved a consensual sexual act.  Failure to establish this will result in the petition being denied by the court.

If the petition is granted, a certified order must be provided to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  Once this is done, the person’s name is removed from the sex offender registry.