A 19-year-old boy is dating a 17 year-old-girl from the local high school.
No problem. There is only a two-year difference in age and nowadays that's
common behavior amongst teenagers. However, if he is having
sex with the minor and lives in California, he can be prosecuted for Statutory Rape even
if the sex was willing and consensual. That's because in the eyes
of the law, a minor is incapable of giving consent to have sex because
of his or her age (under 18). The age of the victim who is incapable of
giving consent varies from state to state.
According to California Penal Code section 261.5 PC, it is a crime for
anyone age 18 or older to have sex with a person under the age of 18 regardless
of whether or not the person gave their consent or whether any force was
involved. This means it is illegal for a 19-year-old boy to have sex with
his 17-year-old girlfriend, even if the sex was consensual. Even minors
can be charged with this crime.
These laws are based on the presumption that children under the age of
18 are not capable of giving informed consent to sex. Sex with a minor
is legally referred to as Statutory Rape and is also known as “unlawful
sex with a minor,” or “unlawful sexual intercourse.”
To convict an individual of Statutory Rape, a prosecutor must prove these elements:
- The defendant had sexual intercourse with another person
- The defendant and the alleged victim were not married to each other at
the time of the act
- The victim was under the age of 18.
Penalties for Statutory Rape
In California, Statutory Rape is a “wobbler,” meaning it can
be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties for Statutory
Rape depend on the age difference between the offender and the victim.
If the defendant is no more than three years older than the alleged victim,
Statutory Rape is
always charged as a misdemeanor. If the defendant is over three years older than
the victim, the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
An individual charged with misdemeanor
Statutory Rape may face probation, up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Felony statutory rape is punished by one, two, or three years in jail.
Where the defendant is over the age of 21 and the minor is under 16, the
defendant may face a prison sentence of two to four years along with a
fine of $25,000.
A conviction of Statutory Rape does not require lifetime sex registration
in the State of California. However, if the offender is convicted of related
offenses, such as lewd and lascivious acts with a child or
rape, registration will likely be required.
As with any
sex crime, you should work with a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can help
you avoid jail time or have your charges reduced or dropped. Here are
some of the common defenses that may apply in a Statutory Rape case:
- You honestly and reasonably believed the alleged victim was old enough
to consent to sexual intercourse
- You were falsely accused and the sexual intercourse did not occur.
Experienced Los Angeles Sex Crimes Lawyers
If you are being investigated or charged with Statutory Rape, speak to
an experienced Los Angeles sex crime attorney immediately. Do not attempt
to talk your way out of your charges with law enforcement or with the
victim's parents. Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners bring over 70
years of combined criminal law experience protecting the rights of accused
individuals in Los Angeles. We encourage you to get in touch with our
firm to evaluate the strength of the prosecutor's case and assist
you in preparing a strong defense.
Contact us today to discuss your case during a