A sex crime is any illegal act that is sexual in nature, and rape is one of the most grievous sex crimes in California, taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges alike. More than any other criminal offense, rape crimes carry a social stigma that can follow you for the rest of your life, and defendants convicted of rape in Los Angeles may be required to register as sex offenders with the state of California, which means they could have to check in with local law enforcement every year for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, because California law requires that all rape allegations be investigated, and rightfully so, innocent people are often falsely accused of rape or wrongfully arrested on rape charges. A rape crimes conviction can ruin your reputation and adversely affect the rest of your life, including your personal and professional relationships, future job opportunities, and more. With the help of our knowledgeable rape crimes defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles, you can protect your rights and minimize the damage of a rape allegation or criminal charges.
Affordable Rape Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
When facing charges for rape in California, the only way to ensure that your rights are fully protected under the law is to hire a knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense attorney with experience defending clients against rape crimes charges. Not only are our defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles intimately familiar with the California criminal justice system, we are trained to find weak points in the prosecution’s case, and we know what defense strategies work best in rape crimes cases. We may even be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to have your criminal charges dismissed altogether or reduced to a lesser offense with fewer penalties. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our attorneys will do everything in their power to build a strong defense, including interviewing witnesses, running a background check on your accuser and consulting with forensic experts, and we will ensure that your legal rights are protected, from the moment you are arrested to the conclusion of your case.
Rape is a form of sexual assault and California law defines rape as the act of engaging in sexual intercourse against another person’s will or without his or her consent, using fear, force, violence, fraud or duress. Judging by movies and television shows, you might think that most rape crimes involve a stranger attacking an unsuspecting woman in a dark alley, but a large percentage of California rape and sexual assault cases actually involve people who know one another. In fact, in many of these cases, the sexual encounter is consensual, and the alleged victim falsely accuses the defendant of rape after the fact, simply because he or she is filled with regret. One example of a situation in which a person may be falsely accused of a rape crime would be if a man and woman meet at a bar, have too much to drink and end up going home together. If, the following morning, the woman regrets the encounter, she may accuse the man of rape to shift the blame from herself onto him.
There are several different categories of rape in California and such crimes are covered under California Penal Code § 220 PC assault with intent to commit rape, Penal Code § 261 PC rape, Penal Code § 261.5 PC statutory rape, Penal Code § 262 PC spousal rape, Penal Code § 264.1 PC forcible rape while acting in concert, Penal Code § 266(c) PC oral copulation by force, and Penal Code § 289 PC forcible penetration with a foreign object, and each of these offenses is a separate crime. Generally, rape charges may occur when any of the following elements come into play:
- Physical force, verbal or non-verbal threats, intimidation or another form of coercion was used by the defendant towards another person
- The other person was legally unable to give consent
- The defendant obtained permission for a sexual act through fraudulent means
- The sexual act was done while the other person was unconscious or sleeping
- The other person’s reason for complying was out of fear of bodily harm
The most significant element of a rape crime is consent and it is important to understand that the other person doesn’t have to resist for a sexual act to be considered rape. The age of consent in California is 18, and under the California statutory rape statute Section 261.5, the law assumes that minors are unable to legally give consent. This means that even if the other person is a willing participant in the sexual act, if he or she is under 18, he or she is unable to legally consent, and you could be charged with statutory rape.
Conviction for Rape Crimes Penal Code § 261
If you are charged with rape in California, the prosecutor will try to prove that you committed sexual assault by force, duress, violence, threat of bodily harm, menacing, fraud or fear of retaliation. In cases where the alleged victim’s ability to consent comes into question, the prosecutor may present evidence that he or she was drugged or intoxicated, or was otherwise physically incapable of giving consent because of a mental disorder or minority age. In order to be convicted of rape in Los Angeles, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You engaged in sexual intercourse with the alleged victim;
- You and the victim were not married at the time of the encounter;
- The intercourse was against the will of the alleged victim; and
- The intercourse was carried out using force, menace, duress, fear or fraud.
How is Rape Different from Sexual Battery
Rape (Penal Code § 261 PC) and sexual battery (Penal Code § 243.4 PC) are similar sex crimes under California law, both involving sexual acts carried out without the other person’s consent. The main difference between rape and sexual battery is the element of sexual penetration. Rape involves non-consensual intercourse with sexual penetration, while sexual battery involves the unlawful touching of another person’s intimate parts for the purpose of arousal, abuse or sexual gratification, against that person’s will or without his or her consent. In many sex crimes cases, sexual battery is charged when a sexual assault occurs, but the act falls short of actual intercourse, which would constitute rape.
Penalties for a Rape Crimes Conviction
Rape in Los Angeles is a felony offense punishable by three, six or eight years in state prison and/or up to $10,00 in fines, plus additional penalties, like probation and mandatory sex offender registration. If the alleged victim sustained great bodily injury, you could have three to five years added onto your maximum prison sentence. If the alleged victim was a minor, the minimum prison sentence for a felony rape conviction is seven years, and the maximum is 13. Furthermore, a rape crime may be considered a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law, which imposes longer prison sentences for certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felonies.
Defenses to Rape Crimes Charges
Successfully defending yourself against rape charges in Los Angeles depends a great deal on the circumstances of your case, but the most common defense strategy used by criminal defense attorneys is disproving the absence of consent. If you and your attorney can prove that the person accusing you of rape gave consent prior to engaging in the sexual act, you may be able to use this as a defense. Some other defenses that may be helpful in your California rape case include:
- False accusation – If your attorney can prove that the claim of rape was false, made for the purpose of retaliation or other reasons
- Mistaken identity – If your attorney can prove that the other person may have been influenced by police during the identification process
- Consent – If the other person initially consented to the intercourse, but later changed his or her mind and failed to effectively communicate the withdrawal of consent; or if you had good reason to believe the other person had consented
- Insufficient evidence – If no medical or physical evidence was presented to corroborate the rape accusation
Although the legal age of consent in California is 18, you may be able to use age as a defense if you are younger than 21, the alleged victim is older than 16, and there is only a three-year difference between your ages.
Hiring an Experienced Rape Crime Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
There are few crimes that carry such harsh penalties and devastating collateral consequences as sex crimes, not to mention the personal humiliation that comes with a sex crimes conviction, and rape in particular is a devastating crime to be accused of. Being convicted of rape almost always results in mandatory lifelong sex offender registration, and being a registered sex offender can adversely impact your ability to find quality housing, keep your job or have custody of your children. It is the main priority of a good criminal defense attorney to ensure that individuals falsely accused of rape or another sex crime are not wrongfully convicted. If you are accused of rape or are being investigated for any type of sex crime, do not wait until you have been formally charged to hire a criminal defense attorney. Contact our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss your possible defense options.