Public Law 216, which went into effect July 1, contains a long list of criminal law changes related to sexual and violent offenses and the Indiana Sex Offender Registry, which has been renamed the Sex and Violent Offender Registry, says the Lafayette Journal and Courier. Among other things, the law creates a legal defense, nicknamed the “Romeo and Juliet defense,” against charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. For years in Indiana, the age at which a person could legally consent to have sex has been 16, but under the new law, young defendants accused of having sex with 14- and 15-year-olds can use the new law to mount a defense.
The new statute does not really change the age of consent, but it does modify a 1994 law that made sexual misconduct with a minor a separate offense from child molesting . “The change in the law decriminalizes consensual sex among teenagers in a dating relationship if they are within four years age difference,” said Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council.