Legal Dictionary

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Unlawful Sexual Intercourse

Unlawful sexual intercourse, commonly referred to as statutory rape or sex with a minor, is sexual intercourse with a person who is under the age of eighteen, who is not the spouse of the perpetrator. Unlawful sexual intercourse is prosecuted in California under Penal Code section 261.5. Sexual intercourse is defined as any penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or genitalia by the penis. Ejaculation is not required. Consent by the victim is not relevant and therefore is not a defense in unlawful sexual intercourse cases.

In California, the crime of unlawful sexual intercourse is prosecuted as a misdemeanor if the age difference between the perpetrator and the victim is 3 years or less. If the perpetrator is more than 3 years older than the victim, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony and will punished in county jail for up to one year or by a state prison sentence for up to 3 years. An unlawful sexual intercourse conviction as a misdemeanor or felony does not require sex offender registration in California.

If you or someone you know is being investigated or charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before talking to law enforcement personnel.