Statutory rape or engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is a minor or under 18 years of age, is a charge that is frequently leveled against innocent people, often out of spite or jealousy. There is no question that we as a society must protect our young people from sexual predators. However, it is also important that we prevent innocent people from facing punishment for a crime they did not commit. If you or a loved one has been accused of committing statutory rape, it is critical that you get an experienced Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney on your side right away.
What is Statutory Rape?
According to California Penal Code Section 261.5 (a): "Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the person is a minor. For the purposes of this section, a "minor" is a person under the age of 18 years and an "adult" is a person who is at least 18 years of age."
If the defendant is found to have engaged in sexual intercourse with a minor who is not more than three years younger than the perpetrator, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor. If the alleged victim is more than three years younger than the defendant, he or she could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If a person 21 years of age or older engages in sex with a minor who is under 16 years of age, he or she could face misdemeanor or felony charges.
In addition to possible time in county jail or state prison, depending on the circumstances of the case, the defendant could also face significant fines and possible registration as a sex offender. A misdemeanor conviction could lead to informal probation, up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Felony penalties for statutory rape include formal or informal probation, up to four years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Possible Defenses in Statutory Rape Cases
If you sincerely believed that the victim was 18 years or older at the time or if the alleged victim told you he or she was 18 or older, you cannot be convicted under California's statutory rape law. Some of the evidence that can be used in these cases include statements made by the victim, his or her appearance and/or attire and the venue where you met the victim. Under the law, it is a crime to have sex with an individual under 18, regardless of whether or not there was consent. This is because minors are legally unable to give consent.
An experienced defense lawyer such as Daniel E. Kann will be able to present the evidence in your case and fight hard to reduce or even dismiss your charges. If you are facing statutory rape charges, contact our law offices to find out how we can build an aggressive and vigorous defense to fight the charges against you and protect your reputation and your future.