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Statutory Rape

In California, it is considered rape to engage in sexual intercourse with an individual who is under the age of 18 at the time of the sexual intercourse. The crime of “statutory rape” is set forth in California Penal Code §261.5. If anyone involved in sexual intercourse is under the age of 18 at the time of the sexual intercourse, they are guilty of statutory rape, even if it was consensual. Technically speaking then, if two minors in high school engage in sexual intercourse, they may both be guilty of statutory rape. In 2017, it is no secret that individuals under the age of 18 are engaging in sexual intercourse, which means that it is no secret that statutory rape is a common occurrence. As a practical matter however, minors who engage in consensual sexual intercourse are not prosecuted for committing a crime.

Common examples of statutory rape include:

  1. Dan is a high school teacher, and Vivian is his student. Vivian is a senior in high-school and will turn 18 in two months. Dan and Vivian engage in consensual sexual intercourse. Dan has committed statutory rape.
  2. Vivian and Victoria are both 17 and attend a party at University of California Los Angeles, and have consensual sexual intercourse with two 22 year old college students who believed they were over 18. If the Prosecution can prove that it was unreasonable for the college students to believe Vivian and Victoria were over 18, they can be convicted of statutory rape.
  3. Dan and Vivian are both 17 years old, and have been dating for 5 years. Dan and Vivian engage in consensual sexual intercourse. Both Vivian and Dan have committed statutory rape.

Definition of Statutory Rape

In order to obtain a conviction for statutory rape, the Prosecution must prove the following elements to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant engaged in sexual relations with the Victim;
  2. The Victim was not married to the Defendant at the time the sexual relations occurred; AND
  3. The Victim was under 18 when the sexual relations occurred.
  • The defendant had sexual intercourse with the victim;
  • At the time of the intercourse the victim was not married to the Defendant; and
  • At the time of the intercourse the victim was 18 years old or younger.

The Prosecution must prove each and every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction for statutory rape. The basis for this is found in the United States Constitution, specifically the Due Process Clause. Since the Prosecution bears a very high burden in order to obtain a conviction, it is a common defense strategy to negate one or more of the elements of the crime the Prosecution is seeking to convict the Defendant for. Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer has decades of combined experience representing clients accused of all manners of criminal conduct; including statutory rape. With their extensive knowledge of every element of the crime, LACL provides the very best opportunity of obtaining a favorable outcome for their clients. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we pride ourselves on providing superior service to our clients. Part of providing superior service includes keeping our clients informed. The remainder of this article will focus on: (1) the elements of statutory rape, (2) the penalties you may face if you are convicted of statutory rape; and (3) what Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can do to assist you if you are accused of statutory rape.

Sexual Intercourse

A rape cannot occur unless the Prosecution is able to show that sexual intercourse occurred. Sexual intercourse occurs when an individual uses any portion of their body, or another object, to penetrate the mouth, vagina, or anus of another person. The slightest penetration constitutes sexual intercourse, and it is no defense to argue that the penetration wasn’t significant. It is irrelevant whether or not the Defendant climaxed, the fact that penetration occurred is enough to satisfy this element.

Victim’s Relationship to the Defendant

If the Victim was married to the Defendant at the time of the nonconsensual sexual intercourse, the Defendant has committed the crime of spousal rape as set forth in California Penal Code §262. To be convicted of rape, the Victim must not have been married to the Defendant at the time of the nonconsensual sexual intercourse.

Gender of the Victim

At one point, rape could only be committed against a female. In today’s more enlightened society, we have come to accept that anyone can be the victim of rape. Thus, if a woman forced a man to engage in sexual intercourse against his will, she will also be convicted for the crime of rape.

Age of Victim

To be guilty of statutory rape, the Victim must have been under the age of 18 at the time of the sexual intercourse. Further, an individual is considered to be 18 years old at 12:00AM the day of their 18th birthday.

Minors and Statutory Rape

As mentioned above, the crime of statutory rape only requires that the Defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with someone who was not married to them, and that person was under the age of 18 at the time. It is a common misconception that statutory rape requires one party to be over the age of 18,; this is not the case. As such, when two minors consensually engage in sexual intercourse, they are technically both guilty of statutory rape. However, in today’s society it is an accept fact that minors may have sex before they are 18, and minors are not prosecuted for the crime.

I Have Been Convicted of Statutory Rape, What Penalties Might I Face?

If you are charged with statutory rape, the charge can be brought as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This is known as a “wobbler offense” in California. The charges will be brought as a felony if the Prosecution shows that: (1) the Victim was three (3) years or younger than the accused, and (2) the accused was over twenty-one (21) years old at the time of the sexual intercourse.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape, you will ace incarceration in county jail for a period not more than one (1) year and/or a fine of one-thousand ($1,000) dollars.

If you are convicted of felony statutory rape, you will face incarceration in California State Prison for a period of sixteen (16) months to two (2) years.

If you are convicted of felony statutory rape, and the Victim is under sixteen (16) and you are over twenty-one (21), you will face an enhanced sentence of up to four (4) additional years in California State Prison.

Civil Penalties

In addition to the criminal penalties you may face if convicted of statutory rape, the Prosecution can pursue civil penalties. The consequences for a civil claim can only include monetary sanctions, as opposed to incarceration. The amount of the fine is dependent on the difference in age between the Defendant and the Victim.

If the Victim and the Defendant are two years apart, the maximum fine will be two-thousand ($2,000).

If the Victim and the Defendant are between two and three years apart, the fine will be up to five-thousand ($5,000) dollars.

If the Victim and Defendant are more than three years apart, the fine will be up to ten-thousand ($10,000) dollars.

If the Victim is under 16 and the Defendant is over 21, the fine will be up to twenty-five-thousand ($25,000) dollars.

Any money paid by the Defendant pursuant to a civil action will be paid to the state prevention of underage pregnancy fund (“UPP”)

I Have Been Accused of Statutory Rape, How Can Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Assist Me?

The crime of statutory rape can be brought as either a misdemeanor or a felony, this is known as a “wobbler offense.” Most statutory rape charges will be brought as a misdemeanor, but depending on the difference in age between the Victim and Defendant, it may be brought as a felony. Regardless of which form the criminal charges take, they will appear on your criminal background. This can be detrimental to your future job prospects. Many employers routinely conduct background checks on applicants for positions with their company in order to screen some applicants out. Employers generally shy away from hiring people with criminal histories, and statutory rape carries an additional stigma with it. The conviction does not provide the details of your case, and may be interpreted in the worst manner possible.

If convicted of statutory rape, you may be forced to place your name on the sex offender registry, which will follow you for the remainder of your life. There is a massive social stigma associated with being a “sex offender”, even if you haven’t engaged in the kind of conduct most people associate “sex offenders” with.

In light of the severity of the consequences you may face if convicted of statutory rape, it is imperative that you contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer the moment you have been accused of statutory rape. LACL will fight to defeat the case against you before permanent harm can be done to your reputation and life. With several decades of experience in criminal jury trials, your LACL attorney will raise substantial arguments in an effort to obtain an acquittal. Some of these defenses include:

  • It was reasonable to believe that the Victim was over 18 years old

If it was objectively reasonable, in light of the circumstances, to believe that the Victim was over 18 years old at the time of the sexual intercourse, a Defendant cannot be convicted of statutory rape.

Example:

Dan is at a local pub enjoying a Racer 5 when he spots Vivian walking in with a group of girls he has seen around at other bars. Dan approaches Vivian, buys her a drink and they get to talking. At the end of the evening, Dan and Vivian return to Dan’s house and engage in consensual intercourse. Dan is subsequently arrested and informed that Vivian was 17 years old. In light of the fact that Vivian was at a bar, which required Vivian to be 21, and the fact that she came to the bar with a group of women Dan recognized from other locations where people had to be 21 to enter, Dan may be able to argue that it was objectively reasonable for him to believe Vivian was over the age of 18.

  • Wrongfully accused.

If you or a loved one has been accused of statutory rape, contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately at 310-502-1314 for a FREE consultation.

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