Edad sexual y exclusión de la responsabilidad penal. Fundamentos del Derecho anglosajón

Amparo Martinez Guerra


En los últimos años, la protección de menores frente comportamientos de abuso y explotación sexual ha sido una de las preocupaciones principales en los sistemas legales de Derecho continental y anglosajón. La respuesta de los Legisladores penales ha sido la elevación de la edad de consentimiento sexual de los menores de edad. Sin embargo, la medida provoca problemas interpretativos de índole constitucional que no pueden ser obviados. Por un lado, la posible afectación del derecho fundamental a la privacidad de los propios menores (desarrollo de su sexualidad). Por otro, la proporcionalidad de la sanción penal prevista para ese tipo de delitos, así como los efectos de la inscripción en los Registros de Delincuentes sexuales. En España, la modificación de la LO 1/2015, de 30 de marzo, elevó la edad de consentimiento sexual a los 16 años. La reforma también incluyó el nuevo art. 183 quáter, que permite al Tribunal eximir de responsabilidad penal cuando autor y víctima sean “próximos por edad y grado de desarrollo o madurez”. En los sistemas penales anglosajones esta cláusula, denominada “cláusula de escape” o “cláusula Romeo y Julieta”, es una de las piezas centrales del delito del statutory rape o delito de violación definido por estatuto. Este artículo examina los orígenes, configuración y el fundamento de la exclusión de la responsabilidad penal por “cercanía en edad o desarrollo” en los Estados Unidos de América (sistemas federal y estatal), Reino Unido e Irlanda del Norte, República de Irlanda y Canadá. El artículo analiza también la jurisprudencia más importante al respecto y los problemas constitucionales derivados de las nuevas las edades de consentimiento.

In recent years the protection of minors against sexual abuse and exploitation has been one of the main concerns in the Civil and Common Law legal systems. The response of the Criminal Legislators has been the raise of the age of sexual consent of minors. However, this measure causes constitutional problems that cannot be ignored. On the one hand, the conflict with the minor fundamental right of privacy (development of the sexuality). On the other hand, the proportionality of the criminal sanction provided for such crimes, as well as the effects of the registration in the Sex Offenders Registry. In Spain, the amendment introduced by the Organic Law 1/2015, of March 30, raised the age of sexual consent to 16 years. The Law created the new article 183 quater in the Criminal Code to allow the Court to exempt from criminal responsibility when the defendant and the victim are «close in age and development or maturity». In Common Law criminal systems that clause, called «escape clause» or «Romeo and Juliet clause» is one of the central pieces of the statutory rape. This article examines the origins, the elements and the rationale of the exclusion of criminal responsibility for «close in age and development» in the United States of America (federal and state law), the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Ireland and Canada. The article analyses the most important case-law regarding the constitutional problems arising from the new ages of consent.


Palabras clave

menores, consentimiento, abuso sexual, antijuridicidad, justificación, error de hecho, cláusula Romeo Julieta, Sistemas legales anglosajones, Derecho penal, minors, consent, statutory rape, unlawfulness, defenses, mistake of fact, Common Law Legal Systems, Criminal Law

Texto completo:



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/rdpc.23.2020.27045

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