Visalia & Fresno Statutory Rape Attorney

Statutory Rape as Defined by the California Penal Code 261.5

Criminal laws and procedure for the state of California are codified in Part 2 of the California Penal Code. As in most states, the California Code makes it a crime for anyone 18 or older to engage in an act of sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 18, unless the individuals were married at the time of intercourse. The criminal charge of statutory rape in California is a serious offense which requires the legal assistance of a competent Visalia criminal lawyer.

Penalties for Statutory Rape

Under California Penal Code 261.5, the crime of statutory rape may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending upon the age difference between the defendant and the minor. If the accused was no more than three years older than the minor, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor.

If a criminal defendant is charged with misdemeanor statutory rape, the possible penalties which may be imposed include:

  • A maximum of one year in county jail
  • A maximum $1,000 fine

If the accused was more than three years older than the minor, and the minor was 16 years of age or older at the time of the alleged act of sexual intercourse, the offense could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the facts of the case and any criminal history on the part of the defendant.

In this circumstance, if a criminal defendant is charged with felony statutory rape, the possible penalties which may be imposed include:

  • A maximum of three years in county jail
  • A maximum $10,000 fine

In circumstances where the accused was 21 years of age or older, and the minor was under the age of 16 at the time of the alleged act of sexual intercourse, the offense is charged as a felony.

In this circumstance, if a criminal defendant is charged with felony statutory rape, the possible penalties which may be imposed include:

  • A maximum of four years in county jail
  • A maximum $10,000 fine

The California Penal Code 261.5 also allows the district attorney to impose additional civil penalties upon defendants convicted of statutory rape as follows:

  • A maximum civil penalty up to $2,000 if the defendant was convicted of statutory rape of a minor less than two years younger.
  • A maximum civil penalty of up to $5,000 if the defendant was convicted of statutory rape of a minor at least two years younger.
  • A maximum civil penalty of up to $10,000 if the defendant was convicted of statutory rape of a minor at least three years younger.
  • A maximum civil penalty of up to $25,000 if the defendant was over the age of 21 and convicted of statutory rape of a minor under 16 years of age.

Statutory Rape Defenses

A good criminal attorney will be able to defend a client accused of statutory rape on one or more of the following grounds.

  • The defendant did not engage in sexual intercourse with the alleged victim.

The crime of statutory rape requires that there be some sort of penetration of the vagina by the penis. The prosecution bears the burden of providing evidence of unlawful sexual intercourse to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • The alleged victim was not under 18.

The crime of statutory rape requires the victim be under the age of 18 at the time of the act of intercourse. A thorough investigation need to be performed to determine the actual age of the alleged victim and when the alleged offense actually occurred.

  • The defendant had a good faith belief that the alleged victim was 18 years of age or older.

This defense requires that the defendant have actually believed that the victim was 18 years or older. It’s the job of the jury to decide what the defendant actually believed and whether this belief was objectively reasonable taking into consideration all the testimony, the physical appearance of the alleged victim as well as any statements made giving the defendant the reasonable belief that the minor was an adult.

  • The defendant was married to the victim.

Since in California it is legal for a minor to marry an adult with parental or judicial consent, if the defendant was married to the alleged victim at the time of intercourse, providing a document proving marriage is a complete defense.

Individuals accused of statutory rape in violation of California Penal Code 261.5 should contact a Visalia criminal attorney experienced in defending statutory rape cases.

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