Rape occurs if one person has non-consensual sexual intercourse with another person. Sometimes, individuals use force, threats, or blackmail to force someone into non-consensual sexual intercourse. Other types of rape occur if someone is legally unable to give consent to a sex act.
Statutory rape is an example of a rape that occurs because one party cannot consent to sexual intercourse. This charge is prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 261.5: Statutory Rape. Let the Simmrin Law Group go over the legal information surrounding a statutory rape charge right now.
California’s Definition of Statutory Rape
Statutory rape generally involves having sex with someone under the age of 18. 18 is the legal age of consent in California. Individuals can be charged with statutory rape even if they do not force the underage individual into sex.
The following facts about statutory rape are also true. Individual can be prosecuted if:
- The Underage Party Requested the Sex Act
- All Parties Involved in the Sex Act Were Under 18
Individuals may face misdemeanor or felony statutory rape charges in California. Individuals who have sexual intercourse with someone who is within three years of their age are always charged with a misdemeanor.
The courts can treat statutory rape as a felony or a misdemeanor if:
- One Party is More than Three Years Older than the Other
- One Party is Over 21 and One Party is Under 16
The Los Angeles court system sometimes refers to statutory rape as unlawful sex with a minor. These charges represent the same criminal act. Note that if an individual uses force to carry out a rape, or if direct sexual intercourse does not occur, the courts may focus on different sex crime charges, including:
- California Penal Code Section 261: Rape
- California Penal Code Section 243.4: Sexual Battery
- California Penal Code Section 647(a): Lewd Conduct
- California Penal Code Section 647.6: Annoying or Molesting a Child
Penalties for Statutory Rape in California
The penalties for statutory rape vary depending on whether this act is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Misdemeanor Statutory Rape Penalties
Individuals convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape can face:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
Felony Statutory Rape Penalties
A felony conviction for statutory rape can lead to:
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Prison Time: Up to 4 Years
In addition to court fines, an individual convicted under PC 261.5 could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in restitution to their victim.
Note that the above penalties are only applicable to adults. Individuals under 18 who are accused of statutory rape will be charged in juvenile court, where they may face different penalties.
Building a Defense for Statutory Rape Charges
Individuals who are accused of statutory rape may be able to utilize a number of legal defenses, including:
They Thought Their Partner Was Over the Age of 18
In order to be convicted of statutory rape, an individual must be aware that they are having sexual intercourse with someone under 18. If someone reasonably believes they are engaging in sex with someone over 18, they should not be convicted under PC 261.5.
They Were Falsely Accused of Statutory Rape
Many accusations regarding sex crimes are legitimate. However, some accusations are made falsely, including statutory rape accusations. If an individual was accused of a rape that did not occur, they should not be convicted.
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can assess your case if you or a family member are facing statutory rape charges.
Examples of Act of Statutory Rape in California
The following examples can be used to understand statutory rape charges:
A man meets a woman at a club that is supposed to be 21-and-over only. She is drinking a beer. They connect and things progress romantically through the night. They eventually leave together, returning to his apartment, where they have sexual intercourse. Afterwards, she reveals that she is only 16. He may not be convicted of statutory rape, since he had reason to believe she was over 18.
A man at college meets the little sister of one of his friends. She is almost 18 and he is aware of her age. They hit it off and end up having sexual intercourse, despite the fact that he is 20. He could be charged with misdemeanor statutory rape.
Get Professional Help Dealing with Statutory Rape Accusations
Some individuals try to handle statutory rape accusations on their own. This often leads to a conviction. You can contact the Simmrin Law Group now if you are charged under California Penal Code Section 261.5: Statutory Rape. Call (310) 997-4688 or complete our online contact form to contact our team of criminal defense lawyers now.
You can get legal advice with a FREE initial case evaluation.