Statutory Rape Explained in Movie to Relax Viewers
Within the American culture, it's clear that statutory rape isn't always black-and-white. In fact, sometimes, even people close in age can be charged with a rape crime just because of a few years of age difference. When this issue was potentially a problem in the latest Transformers movie, audiences may have been surprised by the steps taken to explain why the characters weren't getting in trouble for their relationship.
The story about this movie is interesting because it illustrates something that can take place in Texas. In the movie, a father is upset because his underage daughter is dating a 20-year-old man. He threatens to call the cops. Realistically, there was no problem at all. The entire case falls under something called a "Romeo and Juliet" law, which allows relationships between individuals close in age who had previously met as minors. For instance, a 17-year-old who is now with an 18-year-old could, technically, be in an illegal relationship if this law wasn't in place, even though they may have started dating when the 17-year-old was 16 and the 18-year-old was 17.
The movie script of Transformers actually takes the time to explain that, in Texas, there is a statute called statute 2705-3 that protects preexisting juvenile foundational relationships from persecution. Many of these laws are enforced in various states. They typically only protect the couple if they are within three years of age of each other and over the age of 14.
Some people have argued that it didn't make sense to explain the relationship in such depth in a movie like that, but it may help clear up some preconceptions about what is and isn't allowed to be called statutory rape. Knowing the legal requirements to claim rape is absolutely important, not only to the alleged victim but also to the person being accused. These claims are serious and can lead to many years behind bars, so false claims should not be able to move forward in the courts.
Source: She Knows, "Transformers uses "Romeo and Juliet law" to sidestep statutory rape," Shanee Edwards, June 28, 2014.