Los Angeles Statutory Rape Lawyer
If you need help after an accusation of statutory rape, call Hurwitz Law Group. A conviction for statutory rape will lead to fines, imprisonment, and permanent registration as a sex offender. A public defender may not have the time or resources to provide an adequate defense against such serious charges, and the Hurwitz Law Group is here to help. Our team has extensive experience in all types of criminal defense cases in Los Angeles, so contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.
California laws state that minors under the age of 18 do not possess the ability to provide meaningful consent to sexual activities. “Statutory rape” describes sexual intimacy between a person over the age of 18 and another person under the age of 18. Since California does not recognize minors’ ability to consent to such activity, anyone found engaging in sexual conduct with a person under the age of 18 faces prosecution for statutory rape. The acts in question and the relative ages of the minor and the offender will determine the severity of the offender’s punishment.
Punishments for statutory rape vary based on the ages of the victims and the offenders. There are different criminal definitions for sexual encounters between minors under age 18 but older than 14 and incidents involving children under the age of 18. Chapter 1, Section 261.5 of the California Penal Code outlines the offenses that classify as “carnal abuse of children” and the penalties for such offenses:
- Anyone who engages in sexual intercourse with a person no more than three years older or three years younger than the other person commits a misdemeanor. Anyone who engages in sexual intercourse with a minor who is more than three years younger than the perpetrator commits a felony and faces up to one year in county jail.
- Anyone over the age of 21 who engages in sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 16 commits a felony and will face up to one year in county jail or up to four years in state prison. He or she will also be liable for civil penalties up to $25,000.
- Adults who engage in sexual intercourse with minors no more than two years younger than the adult will face civil penalties up to $2,000. If the minor is two to three years younger than the adult, the adult faces up to $3,000 in fines.
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
- Forcible penetration of a child is a felony punishable by up to 12 years in state prison.
- Sexual acts with a child under the age of 10 are punishable by 15 years to life imprisonment.
It’s important to note that some states follow “Romeo and Juliet” laws protecting minor couples who engage in consensual sexual intercourse; California only follows this exemption for minor couples who are no more than three years apart in age and only provides reduction to misdemeanor charges. Although rare, it is possible for two consenting minors under the age of 18 to both face statutory rape charges for a consensual act.
Defenses Against Statutory Rape Charges
Mistaking a minor’s age or the minor lying about his or her real age is very rarely an acceptable defense against a statutory rape charge in California. California is one of only a few states that recognize mistaken age as a viable defense, and it’s only allowed in very special circumstances where sufficient evidence exists to prove the defendant was misled or lied to about the minor’s age. If there is any question about an individual’s real age, it is the responsibility of the adult to secure proof of a potential sexual partner’s age with a driver’s license or other identifying document.