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AWARD WINNING SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL ATTORNEY

Statutory Rape

Under California law, it is illegal to have sexual intercouse with any person that is under the age of eighteen years old.  The statute under the section 261.5 clearly establishes that is unlawful to have sex with a minor, this act could lead someone of  statutory rape conviction in California.  A person commits statutory rape regardless if the victim consented to the act or not, even if the sex was initiated by the minor. Nowadays, the real scenario is that the teenagers are more sexual active than before, meaning, the crime of statutory rape happens every day in our society.

The most common examples of statutory rape, are the following:

  • A high-school professor who was having sexual relationship with a senior student.
  • Two college kids went to a fraternity party and late night starting to have sex, however the guy was 21 but the girl was still 17.
  • Two teenagers who had sex when they were 17.

Legal Definition

In order for someone being convicted of rape, the prosecution need to prove into court the following elements of the crime:

  • The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with another person.
  • The defendant was not married to the victim at the time.
  • The victim was under the age of eighteen years old.

For a better understanding let's explain with details those elements of statutory rape.

Sexual intercourse

Sexual intercourse is defined as penetration for purpose of statutory rape, no matter how slight is the penetration. For purpose of this crime, ejacutation is not necessary to complete statutory rape, so long as the penetration occurs into the victim's body.  The statute protects the victims regarding to lawful act of sex, even if the sexual intercourse was consent by the victim/ minor.

The defendant was not married to the victim at the time

Under California rules, the statute defined statutory rape as a sexual intercouse committed against someone that was not the defendant's spouse and was under 18 year-old. For purpose of this crime, the persons involved into the sexual intercouse should not married at the time of the act. The victim must not have been married with the defendant when the act of statutory rape occurred.  If the victim and the defendant are married, and the defendant committed a sexual intercouse without consent of his wife, this act is going to be considered as spouse rape in California, under the Penal Code 262 Pc.

California rape laws apply to both men and women

At the common law and in others states, statutory rape crime is just considered when the victim is a woman. However, in California the crime of statutory rape could be applied for both men and women. For instance,  If a woman forced a kid to have sexual intercourse, she could be convicted of under statutory rape, Penal Code 261.5. 

Furthermore, if a woman helped a man to rape another minor, she could be guilty of statutory rape even if she did not have sexual intercourse with the victim. In California law, if a person aid or abet someone to commit a sexual intercourse against a minor, the aider could be considered a principal in a criminal statutory rape and is also punishable.

The victim was under the age of eighteen years old

Under California rules, a person must be over 18 years old to have a valid capacity to consent of having sexual intercouse.  A person is considered one year older after midnight on his/her birthday, after at 12:01 am the day of the birthday.

However, the defendant could not be guilty of statutory rape if he reasonably and actually believed that the victim was over 18. The prosecution need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not reasonably believe that the other person was at least 18 years old. Thus, if the prosecution does not prove this element, the defendant should not be guilty of statutory rape.   

Furthermore, since the age of the victim interferes on the defendant's punishment, the prosecution must prove the age of the parties when the action of sexual intercouse was commiited.

Example: Paul is a 20 year-old college student. One night, he goes to a fraternity and see his classmate, Lindsay, a 17 year-old girl that just started college. After having some drinks, Paul brought Lindsay to his dorm and started to have sex. 

In this case, Paul could be charged of statutory rape, since he knew that Lindsay was under 18.

Minors could be charged of statutory rape

In California, if you and your girlfriend, both 17 year-old, start eventually  to have sex, you could be charged of statutory rape, even if you are under age. Nonetheless, this type of case is not a priority to the prosecutors in California, however you could still be prosecute of statutory rape in California juvenile court system. 

Penalties

The offense of statutory rape can be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. This is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with both crimes, if the following facts applies:  (1) If the victim is more than three years younger than the defendant; (2) if the defendant is older than 21 and the victim is under 16 years of age.

Furthermore, if the victim is three years younger that the defendant, the crime is always going to be considered a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor offense is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or  both the fine and imprisonment.

However, if someone was charged as a felony, the penalties could be aggravated depending on the facts of the case, a felony is punishable by a fine not exceeding 10 thousand dollars ($10,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from sixteen (16) months to three (3) years, or  both the fine and imprisonment. However, if the defendant was over 21 year-old and the victim under 16 year-old the sentence of imprisonment is going to be aggravated up to 4 years.

Civil penalties

The district attorney might bring an action seeking civil penalty against the someone who had faced a statutory rape conviction.  This money collected from the civil penalty action must be deposited in the underape pregnancy prevention fund, which is created in the State Treasury and must be used to prevent rape pregnancy. Furthermore:  the amount of the penalty is variable depending on the age of the victim. The statute established the following amounts of civil liability:

  1. An amount not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), if the victim is less than two years younger than the defendant.
  2. An amount not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), if the victim is at least two years younger than the defendant.
  3. An amount not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), if the victim is at least three years younger than the defendant.
  4. An amount not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), if the victim is under 16 year-old and the defendant is over 21 year-old.

Legal Defense

San Diego Criminal Defense fights to built a strong defense to ensure our client's right. A statutory rape conviction could destroy the reputation of an innocent person and our team works closely and respectful with our clients that were accused of statutory rape.  A statutory rape as mentioned already is a wobbler in California, if you are convicted with this type of crime, the crime is going to be on the your criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there a felony or misdemeanor register, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a misdemeanor background.  If you have been charged with statutory rape, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Defense has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be use to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems. 

To contest the charges of statutory rape, San Diego Criminal Defense would be able to use the following legal defenses, if that is the case:

  • You reasonable believed that the victim was over 18.

In California law, the defendant could not be guilty of statutory rape if he reasonably  believed that the victim was over 18 at the time of the sexual intercourse occurred.

Example: A 23 year-old man goes to a nightclub and meets a woman that apparently to have 21 year-old. After having some drinks, the man brought woman home and started to have sex with her. In the next day, he discovered that he was 17 year-old and she was using a fake ID to enter in the nightclub.

In this case, the man could not be guilty of statutory rape, because he reasonable believed that the woman was 21 at the time they had sex.

  • Wrongfully accused.

Under the rules of Californa Law, it is too easy for a victim falsely accuse another of committing this crime, sometimes the cause of action is out of anger, revenge or jealousy. However, San Diego Criminal Defense knows how to protect its clients from wrongfully accusations. If this is your case, contact an attorney promptly. 

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