Unfortunately, the age of the internet we’re currently living in has made it easier than ever to talk to, exploit, and sexually contact minors. This can be done through nearly all electronic communication devices and social media platforms. Adults who communicate or touch minors with the intent of gratifying the sexual desires of either person can face criminal action under Louisiana law. Below, our experienced criminal defense lawyers break down everything you need to know about the crime of indecent behavior with a juvenile in Louisiana, including details about age of consent, Romeo and Juliet exemptions, penalties, and more.
Sex crimes in Louisiana come with serious penalties, and often, a lifelong sex offender registration. That’s why it’s so important for those arrested and charged with sex crimes to arm themselves with aggressive legal representation. Baton Rouge sex crimes lawyers at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown will protect your legal rights and help you obtain the best case outcome possible. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation with our law firm today.
What is the Age of Consent in Louisiana?
The age of consent in Louisiana is seventeen years old. This means that someone under the age of seventeen cannot legally consent to sexual activity because they don’t have the capacity to fully understand the gravity of sexual intimacy. Anyone who engages in sexual activities with someone under the age of seventeen can be charged with statutory rape and other sex crimes under Louisiana law.
What is Indecent Behavior With a Juvenile in Louisiana?
According to Louisiana law (RS 14:81), indecent behavior with a juvenile is any any of the following acts that are committed with the intention of sexually arousing one or both parties:
- Any lewd or lascivious conduct committed upon or in the presence of someone under the age of 17 where there is an age gap of more than 2 years between both parties.
- Transmitting, delivering, or saying any written, textual, or oral communication depicting lewd or lascivious conduct, visual images, or words to anyone under the age of 17 years old. The age difference between the two parties must be more than 2 years.
Louisiana law also states that written, textual, or oral communication can mean literally any type of communication, whether that be through United States mail, personal courier, a local bulletin board service, internet chat room, electronic mail (e-mail), a computer online service, internet service, online messaging service, and of course, physical contact. Written, textual, or oral communication does not include the transference of such images by a cable television company, telephone company, or an internet provider.
In the current age of the internet, indecent behavior with juveniles most commonly occurs through messaging on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. These platforms have made it easier than ever for predators to chat with, groom, and sexually abuse innocent children and teens.
It’s important to note here that anyone who is caught and charged with indecent behavior with juveniles shall not use “lack of knowledge about the child’s age” as a defense.
What Are Lewd and Lascivious Acts?
Lewd means “crude and offensive in a sexual way,” and lascivious means “feeling or revealing an overt and often offensive sexual desire.” So a lewd or lascivious act could be any inappropriate sexually charged conversation between an adult and someone under the age of consent in Louisiana. It could also mean any type of inappropriate sexual contact between an adult and someone under the age of consent.
Does Louisiana Have a Romeo and Juliet Exemption?
About 30 states include Romeo and Juliet exemptions in their statutory rape laws. This means that a person can legally engage in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent as long as the age difference doesn’t exceed a certain number of years, typically 2 to 4 years. These exemptions were created so that teenagers and young adults who are close in age can date each other without fear of criminal penalties and fines.
Louisiana does not include a Romeo and Juliet exemption in their statutory rape laws. This means that if a 16 year old and a 19 year old engage in a sexual relationship, the 19 year old can potentially face penalties for the crime of indecent behavior, even if they’re dating someone who is only a few years younger than them.
Penalties for Indecent Behavior With a Juvenile in Louisiana
According to Louisiana law, penalties for committing indecent behavior with juveniles heavily depends on the age of the victim.
Whoever commits the crime of indecent behavior with a juvenile over the age of 13 (while the offender is over the age of 17) will face a maximum prison sentence of seven years with or without hard labor. Additionally, offenders who commit indecent behavior with juveniles shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars.
Whoever commits the crime of indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 13 (while the offender is over the age of 17) will face two to twenty five years of imprisonment at hard labor. At least 2 years of the offender’s sentence must be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
Call Baton Rouge Sex Crime Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown Today
If you have been arrested or charged with any sex crime in the state of Louisiana, it’s crucial to hire the best possible legal representation. For nearly 40 years, our team of criminal defense lawyers have been protecting and defending the legal rights of Louisianans convicted of all sorts of crimes, including sex crimes. We can help you obtain the best case outcome possible, whether that be a reduced penalty, charge, or fine. Call a Baton Rouge sex crimes lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown today.