The crime of unlawful sex with a minor or unlawful sexual intercourse is better known as statutory rape in California, and this crime constitutes any sexual encounter between any person and a minor under the age of 18, even in cases where the sex is consensual, or it was initiated by the minor, and even in cases where the other person is also a minor. It is not rare in our society for teenagers to be sexually active and California Penal Code § 261.5 PC means that otherwise law-abiding individuals can be prosecuted for statutory rape and face jail time and significant fines as a result. If you or a loved one has been arrested for or charged with statutory rape in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with experiencing handling statutory rape cases. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles as soon as possible to discuss potential defense strategies with a knowledgeable Southern California defense attorney. We will aggressively protect your rights and ensure that you understand the potential consequences of the criminal charges filed against you.
Affordable Statutory Rape Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
If you are facing charges of statutory rape in Los Angeles, there’s no arguing the fact that your future and your freedom are on the line. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side who specializes in defending clients against statutory rape charges and other California sex crimes is key to protecting your rights and safeguarding your future. Our defense team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles will thoroughly examine the facts of your case to obtain the leverage necessary to seek a favorable plea agreement, or to put forth a strong defense on your behalf at trial. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today at (213) 205-3100 to discuss your case with our knowledgeable and affordable statutory rape defense attorneys.
The age of legal consent in California is 18 and any person who has sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 18 can be charged with – and convicted of – unlawful sexual conduct, also known as statutory rape under California Penal Code § 261.5 PC. Even if the sex is consensual, because California law states that minors under the age of 18 are unable to give legal consent to sexual intercourse, the crime of statutory rape can be charged. The only exception to this law is if the person and minor are legally married, in which case any sexual activity is considered a legal act. One obvious example of a situation that could lead to statutory rape charges under Penal Code § 261.5 would be if a 40-year-old college professor develops a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student of his. However, there are other less obvious scenarios that could result in a charge of statutory rape. For example, if a couple of high school sweethearts who have been dating for several years have sex for the first time when he is 18 and she is 16, the 18-year-old could be charged with – and convicted of – statutory rape.
How to File for Divorce in California
California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that either party in a marriage has the right to file for divorce for no other reason than “irreconcilable differences,” and property settlements in CA divorce cases are not influenced by the behavior of either spouse, although child custody and visitation rights can be. Under California Family Code § 2320, in order for a judge to grant a divorce in California, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for six months, and in most cases, the individual seeking divorce must file in his or her county of residence, where he or she must have lived for at least three months. Once the divorce papers have been filed, California law dictates that the filing party must wait at least six months from the date the other spouse received the paperwork before the divorce can be finalized.
Conviction for Statutory Rape Penal Code § 261.5
Being accused of statutory rape may seem like the end of the world, but just because you have been arrested for or charged with a sex crime does not automatically mean you will be convicted. In statutory rape cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, which means, in order to get a conviction, the prosecutor assigned to your case will have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:
- You had sexual intercourse with the alleged victim;
- You were not married to the alleged victim at the time of the offense; and
- The alleged victim was under 18 at the time of the offense.
How is Statutory Rape Different from Rape?
Rape and statutory rape are similar crimes in many ways, but there are a few important differences between the two offenses in terms of what the prosecution is required to prove to get a conviction. The main difference in the prosecution of rape and statutory rape is the element of force, and this is an extremely significant difference. In a rape case, the prosecutor must prove that the sexual intercourse was carried out using force, fear, menace or fraud against the will of the alleged victim. This is a critical element of the crime of rape, and if this element can’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant cannot be found guilty of rape under California Penal Code § 261. However, in a statutory rape case, there is no requirement for the prosecutor to prove that force or fear was used to accomplish the sexual intercourse or that the alleged victim did not consent to the act. If the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant and the alleged victim (a minor under the age of 18) engaged in sexual intercourse and weren’t legally married at the time, that is all that is required to prove the crime of statutory rape.
Penalties for a Statutory Rape Conviction
There are different categories of statutory rape in California and the penalties accompanying this crime vary depending on the age of the minor and the defendant. Generally speaking, less serious penalties will be imposed if the defendant and alleged victim are close in age, while more serious penalties will apply if the alleged victim is younger than 16 and the defendant is older than 21. According to the California Penal Code:
- Statutory rape is a misdemeanor if the minor is under the age of 18 and the defendant is no more than three years older than the minor.
- Statutory rape is a misdemeanor or felony if the minor is under the age of 18 and the defendant is more than three years older than the minor.
- Statutory rape is a misdemeanor or felony if the minor is under the age of 16 and the defendant is 21 or older.
Misdemeanor statutory rape in California is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, plus probation and other potential collateral consequences. A felony statutory rape offense carries a county jail sentence of 16 months, two years or three years (or two, three or four years, if the defendant is 21 years or older and the alleged victim is under 16), and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
In addition to jail time and substantial criminal fines, an adult defendant convicted of statutory rape in Los Angeles may face civil penalties in the amount of $2,000 (if the alleged victim is less than two years younger than the defendant), $5,000 (if the alleged victim is at least two years younger than the defendant), $10,000 (if the alleged victim is at least three years younger than the defendant), or $25,000 (if the alleged victim is under 16 and the defendant is older than 21). Other California sex crimes related to Penal Code § 261.5 PC statutory rape include Penal Code § 288 PC lewd or lascivious acts with a child and Penal Code § 261 PC rape.
Defenses to Statutory Rape Charges
Statutory rape charges can be extremely difficult to defend. In cases involving the crime of rape Penal Code § 261 PC, the defendant may be able to use the defense that the alleged victim consented to the sexual intercourse in order to fight the rape charges. In many cases of statutory rape in Los Angeles, the minor consented to the sexual activity, or even initiated it, but because of California’s legal consent statute, consent is not a legal defense to statutory rape Penal Code § 261.5. Fortunately, there are several other defense strategies your criminal defense attorney can use to explain, excuse or justify your alleged criminal behavior, including the following:
- You are legally married
- No sexual intercourse took place
- You had an honest and reasonable belief that the minor was over the age of 18
- You were falsely accused
- You are the victim of mistaken identity
Hiring a Qualified Statutory Rape Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Statutory rape is a “crime” that occurs every day, and in many cases, the sexual encounter isn’t a rape at all. There are many different scenarios that could result in a wrongful conviction of statutory rape, including cases where the sex was consensual or where accusations of rape are spurred by jealousy or revenge. Too often, false accusations and wrongful arrests lead to unnecessary statutory rape convictions that can ruin the lives of the convicted individuals and their families. If you are facing statutory rape charges in Los Angeles, you need to consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You could face imprisonment, significant fines and other devastating consequences if you are convicted of statutory rape, which could happen even if you are in a relationship and the sexual intercourse was consensual. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today at (213) 205-3100 to speak to a knowledgeable statutory rape defense lawyer today about your case.