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Depending on the state, Romeo and Juliet laws may reduce the severity of the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, reduce the penalty to a fine, probation, or community service, and/or eliminate the requirement that the convicted adult register as a sex offender.

He walked out of prison on May 3, 2004, at age 19, a free man.

Georgia law, which has since been changed to classify this act as a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in prison, also required Wilson to register as a sex offender when he was released.

At 21 years of age, Wilson was released from prison when the court declared his sentence “grossly disproportionate to his crime.” Other states have made similar changes in an attempt to undo the harsh effects of exceptionally strict laws. Statutory rape laws are based on the premise that although young girls may want to have sex, they may not have enough experience or discernment to make a mature, informed decision.

Until recently, statutory rape laws applied only to females, ignoring situations involving sex between an adult female and underage male.

Today, most laws are gender neutral, and a number of women in authority positions (such as Mary Kay Letourneau, Debra Lafave, Pamela Rogers Turner, and Pamela Smart) have been prosecuted for engaging in sexual relationships with younger males. While many states have strict statutory rape laws on the books, prosecutors have been inconsistent in enforcing them, says Mark Chaffin, a researcher with the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth.

On April 27, 2008, he signed a three-year, $1.1 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dixon case is just one in a long line of similar legal battles teens have faced in the last decade.

But if these teens are having sex, and you live in a state where prosecutors aggressively enforce the law, it’s possible that your son could be charged with statutory rape.