Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old? – What the law says

Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old?

Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old?, Can a 15 and 17 year old date? – Well the answer from a purely legal point of view is a matter that bothers a lot of teenagers who are love-struck and unsure if their relationship is legal. Read on to know what the law says.

Can a 15 and 17 year old date?

The simple answer is Yes, the complicated answer depends on three factors that is specific to each state. The factors are:

  1. the legal consent age
  2. whether or not your state has “Romeo and Juliet” laws
  3. the acceptable age difference.
  4. the minimum and maximum age limit of the Romeo and Juliet law in your state

The consent age sets the age limit that a person can consent to sex. Having sex with a person below that age constitutes statutory rape, a serious felony.

What is Romeo and Juliet law?

The Romeo and Juliet law is a law by certain US states which sets allowable age differences for minors engaged in sexual activity, allowing such to avoid statutory rape charges.

The introduction of Romeo and Juliet laws instituted acceptable age difference between minors engaged in sexual activity while setting a minimum and maximum age limit of the minors involved that qualifies under the law.

For example in Arizona, the legal consent age is 18 with an acceptable age difference of 2. According to the Arizona Romeo and Juliet law, the first minor must be below 19 or in high school and the other minor must be older than 15 years.

This means that a 15year old and a 17 year old can be excused from prosecution if found to have been involved in a sexual activity because the age difference is 2. But a 16 year old and a 14 year old cannot be sexually involved as that would be illegal and tantamount to statutory rape. Parental permission is void in such a case.

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It must be noted that not all states have a Romeo and Juliet Law. In such states, two minors involved in sexual activity can face Statutory rape charges no matter the age difference.

Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old?

No, if it involves any form of sexual activity. While many states have Romeo and Juliet laws which are lenient on teens of a certain age difference dating and engaging in sexual activities, it is still illegal for minors below the consent age to engage in sexual activity because of the age limitations in most Romeo and Juliet laws.

The Romeo and Juliet law in some circumstances only reduces the crime to a misdemeanor meaning such minors avoid charges of statutory rape or receive lenient punishment for the offense.

There are exceptions to the Romeo and Juliet law, again, this depends on the state in question. For example, dating between a 13 year old and a 16 year old is illegal in Texas even though the state has a Romeo and Juliet law which allows an age difference of 3.

This is because the state exempts minors below 14 years old from the law, meaning it is illegal to date anyone 14 or below despite the acceptable age difference of 3. Therefore the answer to “Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old?” is definitely NO.

Can a 16 year old date a 20 year old?

Yes, it is legally acceptable for a 16 year old to date a 20 year old in most US states, Canada, Australia and many countries around the world.

This is because the age of consent in many countries is 16 years and in US states, it ranges from 16 to 18. In states with a consent age of 16, a person of age 16 and above can date someone older than them, say 20 year old, and have legal sex so long as they’re not forced or it is not with a blood relative.

In states where the age of consent is either 17 or 18, the existence of a Romeo and Juliet law make such a relationship is acceptable under the law depending on the acceptable age difference.

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It is worthy of note that not all states have an active Romeo and Juliet law or what is known in other jurisdictions as the “close-in-age” provision. In such states, if the legal consent age is 17 or 18, then the answer to “Can a 16 year old date a 20 year old is NO, because it will be in breach of the law if there’s sexual activity involved.

can a 20 year old date a 18 year old?

Yes, a 20 year old and an 18 years old can legally date. This is because both have reached or crossed the age of consent in most all US states and most countries around the world.

In states where the age of consent is 18, a person is no longer considered a minor and can therefore date and consent to sex without fear of being charged with statutory rape.

Romeo and Juliet law states

The following table contains the US states with Romeo and Juliet laws, their consent age and the allowable age difference.

State Age of Consent Allowable
Age Difference
Alabama 16 2
Alaska 16 3
Arizona 18 2
Arkansas 16 3
Colorado 17 4
Connecticut 16 2
Hawaii 16 5
Iowa 16 4
Louisiana 17 3
Maine 16 5
Maryland 16 4
Minnesota 16 2
Mississippi 16 2
New Jersey 16 4
New Mexico 16 4
North Carolina 16 4
Oregon 18 3
Pennsylvania 16 4
South Dakota 16 3
Tennessee 18 4
Texas 17 3
Washington 16 2
West Virginia 16 4
Wyoming 16 4

Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old in Australia

Dating between a 13 year old and a 16 year old in Australia is not forbidden, sexual activity is however, guided by consent law and permissible age difference between the concerned minors.

For example in the Australian Capital Territory, the law states that it is not legally permissible for an individual to engage in sexual activities with a person who is less than 10-years-old.

When you’re between 10 and fifteen years of age, you may legally be able to engage in an act of sexual intimacy only when:

  • You agree to it
  • you are less than two years older than them
  • You consented to it and they truly believed, with reasonable basis you were 116 years or over.

If you’re 16 or older, you can have sexual relations with someone who is 16 or over if you both are in agreement. But, you are not able to consent to sexual activities with someone who has any form of authority or supervisory role over you unless you’re 17 or older.

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Any form of sexual relationship with a relative to constitute incest is prohibited regardless of consent.

Can a 13 year old date a 16 year old in Canada

The legal age for consent for sexual activity in Canada is 16, but there are provisions for exceptions. A “close-in-age” exception allows sexual activity between minors within a qualifying age difference.

If a person is younger than the age of 16, they may be sexually active with anyone who is within five years from their age. For instance an individual who is 14 years old may have sex with anyone who is 18 or older.

If you are between the ages 12 and 13 years old, they are also able to consent to sexual activities, provided that their partner is not more than 2 years older. For instance a 13 year old is allowed to only have sex with a person aged 14 or 15 year old, however not with someone who is 16 or older.

Sexual contact with anyone who is less than 12 years old absolutely prohibited in Canada.

Can step siblings get married?

Yes, no law in the US forbids marriage between step siblings since they’re not related by blood. A step sibling only becomes a sibling through marriage and therefore not a biological child of any of your parents.

US laws forbids sexual relationships between close-blooded relatives such as:

  • Biological Siblings
  • Half Siblings
  • Parents
  • Grand parents
  • Aunties and Nephews
  • Uncles and Nieces
  • First cousins

Since a step sibling does not fall under any of the above listed categories, step siblings can legally get married.


Whether or not a 13 year old can date a 16 year old or the legality of dating between any other age range for that matter, is dependent on the age of consent laws and whether or not the relationship involves sexual activity.

A relationship existing without sexual activity is not in breach of any laws so long as parental consent is sought. If it involves sexual activity, state-specific laws guide the legality or otherwise of the activity and one must be careful of the age of consent and acceptable age difference in order not to breach the law.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Romeo and Juliet law by state in US

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