Accusations of rape are highly serious and should be regarded as such by the accused. This is especially true if the accusations involve college students in the state of California. Here, the burden of proof generally falls on the accused rather than on the accuser, and the definition of “rape” has been expanded to encompass numerous behaviors and actions which would previously have fallen short of that charge. For those reasons, hiring a lawyer if you are accused of rape at a California college is highly sensible. Doing so may mean the difference between a verdict of guilt and one of innocence.
Because “rape” is so loaded a term in the court of public opinion (and understandably so), accusations of it immediately place the accused in a credibility deficit. People tend to believe the accuser by default, and to condemn the accused by extension. It is human nature to err on the side of caution when possible. But this inclination—particularly when rape charges are involved—can compromise the presumption of innocence upon which our legal system was founded. And if that much is true in a broad sense, it is particularly the case on California college campuses where mere mention of sexual assault can send administrators into a frenzy.
Affirmative Consent Standard & The Accused
Affirmative consent is a major consideration within the larger topic of campus rape and rape accusations, even if the concept was developed with positive intentions. Culture and politics are closely linked elements in our republic, with the latter reliably influenced by the former. In recent years, cultural trends have sought to reshape the nature of sexual intercourse as it has historically manifested between two people. What was once an intensely private, personal, and instinctual act now finds itself subject to detailed guidelines, violations of which are punishable by law.
California’s Affirmative Consent Law draws a tight box around the otherwise organic actions comprising romantic intimacy. Below are a few of the law’s more prominent features.
- As the name implies, consent to engage in sexual congress must be expressly stated by both parties.
- Those statements of consent must be ongoing.
- To paraphrase the legislative wording, an absence of clear resistance is not tacit consent.
- Alcohol-fueled intimacy does not excuse any misunderstandings regarding perceived consent.
This is obviously murky legal terrain, as the phenomenon of human passion can impinge upon real-time decision-making ability, leaving one or both parties feeling regretful in the aftermath. Matters can become serious when regret over a sexual encounter morphs into a feeling of violation. You might have been certain of mutual consent (stated or otherwise) only to find yourself charged with rape weeks, months, or years later, as recent legislation has effectively done away with the previous statute of limitations laws. The rules put forth in affirmative consent legislation generally work against a person accused of rape at a California college, which is why hiring an expert lawyer is necessary to help you understand your legal situation.
Penal Code 261: California’s General Rape Laws
California rape laws encompass a range of rape categories, though guilty verdicts for any “type” of rape tend to feed into the same sentencing framework. You would be wise to familiarize yourself with this penal code for the sake of context and to better understand what is at stake if you are yourself accused of rape. Some of the categories relevant to California rape accusations include:
- Date rape
- Oral Copulation by Force
- Sex with a woman drunken to the point of unconsciousness
Regardless of the specific charge, California rape laws dictate state prison sentences of three, six, or eight years (provided the victim is not a minor). In the case of college students, prison is not the only punishment in play—there is also the threat of expulsion and the devastating effects that can have on subsequent academic and career prospects. Taken on its own, that is reason enough to explore the legal recourse available to you if rape accusations at a California college materialize.
The Value of Hiring Skilled Legal Counsel When Accused of Rape
As explained above, if you are accused of rape at a California college, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Campus doctrine surrounding the matter is highly unfavorable to the accused, and verdicts are often reached in a way that marginalizes due process. Throughout history, plenty of legitimate accusers have been ignored entirely, which explains, to some extent, the modern era’s corrective measures. But if you find yourself dealing with baseless accusations, you are entitled to sound legal defense and to a presumption of innocence.
If you have found yourself on the wrong end of a rape accusation, whether at a California college or otherwise, take quick action by consulting with an excellent legal team. Contact the Simmrin Law Group by telephone— (310)-997-4688 —or by filling out the provided form.