Kaitlyn Hunt Refuses Plea Deal, Could Turn to "Romeo and Juliet" Law
Kaitlyn Hunt, the 18-year-old high school student facing felony charges in connection to her arrest after she had a same-sex relationship with a younger student, was offered a plea agreement of two years house arrest and one year probation.
She has refused the plea deal.
Had she taken the offer, she would have been labeled a "sexual offender."
Kaitlyn has received an overwhelming amount of support online, particularly from those who believe this is a gay rights issue. There are those who oppose her, and use the staunch Florida law as a reasoning to push their bigotry.
The family says Kaitlyn's girlfriend's parents are pressing charges because they simply can't handle their daughter being in a same-sex relationship.
Kaitlyn and her supporters say the relationship was consensual. Florida law stipulates that anyone younger than 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity.
The statement from Julia Graves, Kaitlyn's family attorney, reads:
Our client is a courageous teenager who is choosing not to accept the current plea offer by the State of Florida.
This is a situation of two teenagers who happen to be of the same sex involved in a relationship. If this case involved a boy and girl, there would be no media attention to this case.
Our client is a model citizen. She has been placed in an environment of school with her classmates where they go to school together, have lunch together, and play on the same team and are allowed to have communication and contact without barriers. Then when something develops between the two as a result of this environment created by the State, it leads to criminal prosecution.
If this incident occurred 108 days earlier when she was 17, we wouldn't even be here. Right now this is the biggest thing in her life. We are going to stand behind her. Her family and friends are going to stand behind her.
This is not logical. The State is willing to take this teenager's life away over 108 days. Along with Kaitlyn and her family, we are going to fight to have the law changed so no other teenager finds themselves in this same position created by the State of Florida and prosecuted unfairly.
Now we as counsel need to get down to the serious business of fighting for this teenager's life.
On Thursday, supporters showed up to Riverview Park in Sebastian with signs that read "Don't waste my tax $ on nonsense," while t-shirts that read, "Stop the Hate, Free Kate," were sold.
Meanwhile, Charles Sullivan, Jr., the attorney for the other girl's parents, say his clients have not been swayed by the national attention and support Kaitlyn has received. They have no intention of having the charges dropped.
Graves has cited a 2011 case about an 18-year old male who faced the same charges when it was found out he had consensual sex with a 15-year old girl. That case saw the charges dropped to a misdemeanor battery case.
Another option that Kaitlyn can turn to would be Florida's "Romeo and Juliet" law, which would keep her from being labeled a sex offender for the rest of her life if she is convicted.
Under this law, the victim must be at least 14-years-old, have consented to a sexual relationship and the accused can be no more than four years older, which is the case with Kaitlyn and her girlfriend.
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