Age of consent can be a tricky thing. While these laws are designed to protect the young from being victimized, in some cases, they can feel rather arbitrary. However, it is crucial not to take these laws lightly. Violating one of California’s age of consent laws can result in statutory rape charges.
Several different California laws govern behavior considered unlawful when it comes to sexual interaction with a minor. California laws regarding the age of consent are some of the strictest in the country. On top of reading this article, it is important that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer near me in California from the Simmrin Law Group about your situation.
California Is Tough on Statutory Rape
California is one of only 11 states where the age of consent to engage in sexual activity is 18. Throughout most of the country, that age is 16, with half a dozen states having a consenting age of 17.
On top of this, California is a state that does not have a true Romeo and Juliet Law. This law is designed to keep young lovers of similar age from facing criminal charges for engaging in consensual sexual behavior. For instance, in many states, a 15-year-old could legally have sex with a 17-year-old under this law.
California has a sentencing version of the Romeo and Juliet Law, however. The law ensures that sexual relationships between young couples will only result in a misdemeanor offense for statutory rape rather than a felony charge. A felony conviction for rape in California comes with steep penalties. Let a criminal defense attorney from California at the Simmrin Law Group review your case today.
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California’s Laws Regarding Statutory Rape
California has dozens of laws specifically designed to protect children. Among these are several statutes that focus on protecting children from various types of sexual abuse. Some of the primary laws in this realm are:
- California Penal Code (PC) §261.5: Statutory Rape
- PC §288: Lewd Acts with a Minor Under Age 14
- PC §288(a): Oral Copulation with a Minor
PC §261.5 concerns unlawful sexual intercourse or penetration between a minor and a defendant of any age.
Lewd Acts with a Minor Under Age 14
PC §288 defines lewd and lascivious acts as sexual contact, including touching another person’s genitals, buttocks, or breast. This law makes it illegal for any touching of this type to occur between a minor, age 13 or younger, and a defendant of any age.
The law further outlaws this type of contact between a minor aged 14 or 15 and a defendant older by at least ten years.
Oral Copulation with a Minor
PC §288(a) is similar to PC §261.5 but relates specifically to the act of oral sex between a minor and a defendant of any age. All these laws are concerned with protecting children from sexual predators. However, they can result in young partners being unjustly penalized in loving, long-term relationships.
In cases where two 17-year-olds engage in sex, both can be charged with statutory rape. With California’s broad definition of statutory rape, true abusers and innocent kids are often lumped together. While these laws are critical for protecting minors, some argue that they go too far.
Other laws are more clear-cut and only punish true sexual predators. These include laws that protect children from other sexual acts like the creation and distribution of child pornography.
There Are Exceptions for Marriage in California
There are exceptions to statutory rape charges in California if the two parties are married. The state requires that a minor get parental consent to marry under 18; however, there is no minimum age requirement when parental consent is given. Unfortunately, many under 18 are forced into marriage by their parents or guardians.
With parental consent, a 14-year-old could marry a 40-year-old, and the two would be legally allowed to have sex without the risk of statutory rape charges. Many parties are calling for reform to this law to close marriage loopholes as they view forced marriage as a human rights violation and a form of child abuse.
You might not know all of the exceptions available for cases involving age-of-consent laws in California. For this reason, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer from the Simmrin Law Group as soon as possible about your case. Call our office to schedule an appointment today.
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Potential Penalties for a Conviction on an Age of Consent Law
The penalties for a conviction of any age of consent law vary depending on the type of offense, the victim’s age, and the defendant’s age. California has a Romeo and Juliet Law specific to filing charges, making any statutory rape charge a misdemeanor when the parties are both young and close. In typical misdemeanor cases, the defendant could be up against:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to one year in jail
- Summary probation
Penalties for a felony conviction are much harsher and vary greatly. These punishments can include:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- From 16 months to eight years in prison
- Felony probation
Misdemeanor offenses may result in registration as a sex offender, while it is part of mandatory sentencing for anyone convicted of a felony.
For repeat convictions of sexual offenses involving a minor, there is also a mandatory sentence of chemical castration for the defendant. Alternatively, the person convicted could choose to be surgically castrated. California was the first state to include chemical castration as a legal penalty for sex offenders.
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We Provide Legal Representation for Those Accused of Sex Crimes in California
Sex offenders are typically viewed as the vilest of criminals, especially when the victims are minors. To be lumped into this group after participating in a loving, consensual relationship with someone close to your age is hardly justice. If you have been accused of statutory rape, contact the Simmrin Law Group today.
Call or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation today. A legal team member will review your case, answer all your questions, and advise you of your options moving forward.