What is Statutory Rape Law in California?

what is statutory rape law in california

What is Statutory Rape Law in California?

Statutory rape is one of the confusing crimes in California. It’s hard for people to imagine that someone in a loving relationship can be charged with rape. That’s because statutory rape is a crime that is dictated by your age. It doesn’t matter that the victim consented to the sexual conduct. Nor does it matter how long you’ve been in a relationship with the victim. If you’re over 18 and have sex with a minor, you can be charged with statutory rape in California. If this happens to you or your child, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer in California immediately.

What Exactly is Statutory Rape?

According to California’s Penal Code, Sectio 261.5, statutory rape is having unlawful sex with a minor who is under the age of eighteen and not married. What makes the sex unlawful is the age of the partners – not the sex itself. It doesn’t matter if the victim gives their consent. It doesn’t even matter of one of the partner’s parent’s consent to the sexual relationship. That’s why it makes it such a hard crime for your criminal defense lawyer in California to defend.

When it comes to this charge, any level of penetration will constitute sex. It doesn’t matter how long the sex continued. Not does it matter if the defendant and victim completed the act. The bottom line is that an adult had sex with someone who was not at least 18 years old.

Do You Need to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in California if Charged with Statutory Rape?

Because the penalties for statutory rape are so serious, you should consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer in California. Statutory rape is considered a wobbler crime in California. That means it can be deemed either a misdemeanor or a felony. There are certain factors that can determine how you’ll be charged.

The most important one is the age of the victim and the perpetrator:

  • If there are more than three (3) years between you and the victim, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
  • If there are less than three (3) years difference, the crime will be considered a misdemeanor.
  • If you are 21 or older and the victim was younger than 16, it will likely be charged as a felony. However, the judge does have the option of charging it as a misdemeanor.

Clearly, if there’s more than 3 years age difference between you and the victim, it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. However, when you’re over 21 and the victim is 15 or younger, the penalties are more serious. This means that someone who is 22 and has sex with a 15-year-old will receive a much harsher sentence than someone who is 18 and sex with a 15-year-old.

Are the Penalties for this Crime Serious?

Regardless of whether you’re convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, you will be facing possible jail time. For a misdemeanor, you’ll be facing up to one year in county jail. You’ll also have to pay fines of up to $1,000. People convicted of felony statutory rape will be facing anywhere from 16 months in jail to four (4) years. They’ll also have to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove for You to Be Found Guilty?

It isn’t hard for the prosecutor to prove the charge of statutory rape. That’s why there are so many false accusations. All somebody has to do is say you had sex with them when they were under 18 and you can be charged with statutory rape. In order to convict you, all the State has to do is demonstrate the following three (3) things:

  • You had sex with the victim
  • The victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the sex
  • You and the victim are not married and were not married at the time of the offense

In order to fight these charges, your criminal defense lawyer in California can argue one of two things. First, they can argue and show that no sex ever took place. The other option is to prove that you honestly and reasonably believed the victim was 18 at the time you had sexual relations.

Talk to a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in California Immediately

If you or your teenager is charged with statutory rape in California, you’ll be facing serious consequences. Call and talk to a criminal defense lawyer in California right away.