In Los Angeles, “statutory rape” occurs any time someone has sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 18—even if the intercourse is consensual. Even though most cases of statutory rape do not involve any force or violence, the charge is still treated as a sex crime and can carry jail or hard prison time. If you have been charged with this offense, you need to speak to a Los Angeles statutory rape lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you. Our mission is to take the side of the accused and help defend you from the law. We understand that many so-called “statutory rape” cases are complex, and that many should never have been considered crimes in the first place. We take your story seriously and fight for you as if it was our own family member who was on trial. Let us give you a free consultation and show you what we can do. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as statutory rape in Los Angeles?
Statutory rape, also known as “unlawful sex with a minor,” is nearly any sexual intercourse with a person under 18, regardless of the circumstances. That means:
It counts even if no force was used
It counts even if the “underage” party consented
It counts even if the underage party was the one who initiated the sex
In fact, sex counts as statutory rape even if both parties are under 18. Even though both of them are technically the “victim,” either one could be prosecuted and convicted.
(One exception in California is that, if you are married to the underage person, it is not statutory rape. But if they are married to someone else, not you, then it still counts as you breaking the law.)
This law was designed to protect minors, but it often doesn’t do this at all. The truth is that many teenagers are sexually active, both with each other and with adults. Ethical, well-intentioned adults run afoul of “statutory rape” all the time.
What are examples of statutory rape cases?
Some types of cases that can be charged as statutory rape include:
Two high school sweethearts have been dating for three years. Eventually, they decide to have sex for the first time—but one of them is 18 and the other one is 16.
A woman who is a 24-year old grad student attends a college party, and meets a confident, charming man who is also a student. They go home together. She had no idea that he was 17.
A 33-year old office worker develops a sexual relationship with a 17-year old intern.
There are many other types of cases that result in a statutory rape charge, including some where the age gap is much bigger or a younger minor is involved. We believe that you deserve the best defend no matter what the circumstances of your case.
What if I didn’t know the person was under 18?
This is a strong and valid defense against statutory rape charges. You are not guilty of statutory rape if you “honestly and reasonably believed” the person was 18 or older.
This could be because:
They lied to you about their age
You saw them get carded at a bar or 21+ club (or any 18+ venue)
They looked/dressed as if they were an adult
If you believed the person was over 18, and it was reasonable for you to do so, you cannot be convicted.
What counts as sexual intercourse in a statutory rape case?
Not all intimate acts count. In fact, this law uses an oddly strict definition of sexual intercourse:
There was penetration of the vagina or genitalia by the penis
It does not matter how slight the penetration is
It does not matter whether ejaculation occurred
This means that many forms of sex, including between two women, do not count as statutory rape at all. The same is true for sex acts that don’t involve penetration of the “genitalia” (such as oral sex). However, oral sex with a minor is a separate crime and you can be charged with that.
Is it true that statutory rape is a felony?
Only sometimes. It depends on the age difference between you and the minor:
If you are only 3 years older or less, the charge is a misdemeanor
If you are more than 3 years older, you could face a felony or a misdemeanor
If the minor was under 16 and you are more than 3 years older, you could face either charge but the potential felony charges are much worse
In deciding whether to use felony charges, the prosecutor will consider both the circumstances of what happened, and your previous criminal history.
What are the penalties for statutory rape in Los Angeles?
The penalties also depend on which charge you face, as described above:
Misdemeanor statutory rape carries up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Felony statutory rape carries up to $10,000 in fines, plus:
Up to 1 year in county jail,
16 months to 3 years in state prison, or
2 to 4 years in state prison if you are over 21 and the victim was under 16.
You may also be forced to pay civil fines, also known as restitution, to the family of the victim. Restitution can be anywhere between $2,000 and $25,000 depending again on the age difference involved.
These penalties are for adult defendants; if the case involves two people who are both under 18, it will instead be handled by the juvenile courts. Juveniles also do not have to pay restitution.
Do I have to register as a sex offender for statutory rape?
No. The one piece of good news under California’s statutory rape law is that you are not required to register as a sex offender. However, if you are convicted, you will be required to disclose your “unlawful sex with a minor” conviction on on job applications, college admission forms and in other situations, and it can continue to affect you for life. You need to fight the charges.
Is It possible to win a statutory rape case?
Yes. Even if the person really was underage, it is possible to defend your case—and in many cases, you can win. But it’s important to have a lawyer who knows what they are doing. Do not try to explain your side of the story to the police or the prosecutor; they will only use it against you. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.
Talk to a Los Angeles Statutory Rape Lawyer for Free
At the Simmrin Law Group, we believe you deserve a strong defense. Let us put our years of experience to work defending you—and help you get your life back. We will give you a FREE consultation so you understand your case and all the options available to you. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.