‘Romeo and Juliet’ law spares 17-year-old from registering as sex offender.

February 14, 2017
Isaiah Pena with his attorney, Ryan Glandville.

Isaiah Pena with his attorney, Ryan Glandville.

‘Romeo and Juliet’ law spares 17-year-old from registering as sex offender.

#MasonCountyNews #CourtNews

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — A local 17-year-old was spared from having to register as a sex offender due to his age and the victim’s age in a criminal sexual conduct (CSC) case.

Isaiah Samuel Pena, of 5784 W. Johnson Rd., Pere Marquette Township, was sentenced Tuesday, Feb. 14, in 51st Circuit Court for a conviction of attempted third-degree CSC.

Pena, who had just turned 17, was in a “boyfriend and girlfriend relationship” with the victim who was “a month or two away from turning 15,” said Pena’s attorney Ryan Glandville

Pena doesn’t have to register as a sex offender due to the “Romeo and Juliet situation,” said Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola.

“There is a big difference between a 17-year-old who is an adult in the eyes of the law and a 14-year-old girl,” Spaniola said. Pena “took advantage of a younger girl” and “controlled substances were thrown into the mix.”

“She consumed some type of intoxicants using a vapor pen,” Glandville said. “She took her clothes off first because she was hot. Then my client took his clothes off. She did not get the controlled substance from him,” Glandville said. The victim had taken the drug earlier before she met up with Pena, he said.

“Mr. Pena under the eyes of the law is an adult,” said Judge Susan Sniegowski.

In a plea agreement, Pena was ordered to serve a one-year discretionary jail term with nine months up front and credit for 198 days served. He was also ordered to serve five years probation.

Pena was sentenced in 51st Circuit Court last March to serve 10 months up front of a one-year discretionary jail term for felony convictions of breaking and entering and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He was 16 years old at the time, and due to the seriousness of his crimes, he was convicted as an adult.

Pena was on probation at the time of the commission of the (CSC) offense, said Spaniola. “He had been out of jail for a handful of days,” he added.

Sentencing guidelines in the case were 10-23 months.

The prosecution did not recommend sending Pena to prison, “but it very well could have been the outcome,” the prosecutor said.

“Hopefully, Mr. Pena successfully completes his probation, because prison is not a nice place,” Spaniola said.

“My client never denied that he did this,” said Glandville. “He was never uncooperative with police. He did admit it and knows what he did wrong.”

The incident occurred “a few days after he turned 17, and she was two months away from her 15th birthday,” Glandville said. “It doesn’t make it right…They were in a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship.”

“The Romeo and Juliet law was put into place, so he does not have to register as a sex offender,” his attorney said.

“I acknowledge everything I did,” Pena told Judge Susan Sniegowski. “It wasn’t right at all.”

“Based on all the facts and circumstances, I will follow plea agreement,” the judge said. “I do think you have the potential to make some very positive changes in your life… You need to take responsibility for your life. Finish your education and look for employment.”

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