Have you been arrested for statutory rape in California? Are you confused because you and the alleged victim were both willful participants? Statutory rape does not necessarily mean that you forced another person to have sex with you. Statutory rape merely reflects the fact that the alleged victim was under the age of 18. Minors under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sex. As a result, it is a crime to have sex with a minor in California.
The best way to defend yourself against allegations of statutory rape is to hire an attorney to handle your case. Statutory rape defense attorney Vikas Bajaj has more than 16 years of experience defending thousands of clients against criminal charges like statutory rape. He understands how the prosecution will approach your case and how to reduce the negative effects of your arrest. Contact his San Diego office today to schedule a free consultation.
What is Statutory Rape?
Statutory rape [Penal Code Section 261.5 PC] is the crime of having sex with a person under the age of 18. It does not matter if you are also under the age of 18. The only exception is if you are married to that person. There are three primary elements of the crime of statutory rape. In order to be convicted of statutory rape, the state prosecutor will be required to prove that you are guilty of each of these elements.
First, it must be proven that you had sexual intercourse with another person. Second, that person must have been under the age of 18 at the time you engaged in sexual intercourse. Third, that person must not have been your spouse. If the state prosecutor cannot prove each of these things you cannot be convicted of statutory rape.
What are the Penalties for Statutory Rape in California?
Statutory rape is a sex crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge that you will face will depend on (1) the age of the minor victim; and (2) your own age. If the age difference is less than three years, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. If the age difference is more than three years, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are at least 21 years old, you will be charged with a felony.
Misdemeanor Statutory Rape
Misdemeanor statutory rape occurs when the age difference between you and the victim is less than three years. In some situations, you can be charged with misdemeanor statutory rape even if the age difference exceeds three years. The facts and details of your specific case will shape how the charges are presented. If convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape, you could be sentenced to:
- One year in a county jail;
- Summary/informal probation; and/or
- $1,000 in criminal fines.
Felony Statutory Rape
Felony statutory rape occurs when (1) the age difference between you and the victim is more than three years, or (2) you are over the age of 21 and have sex with a minor. If convicted of felony statutory rape, you could be sentenced to:
- One year in a county jail and a term of probation; or
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a California state prison; and/or
- $10,000 in criminal fines.
If you are over the age of 21 and the minor victim is under the age of 16, you could be sentenced to up to 4 years in a California state prison.
What are Some Examples of when Statutory Rape May be Charged?
Statutory rape can occur in a number of different situations. Many of these situations can include willing participants who just happen to be unable to legally consent. Examples of situations when a person could be guilty of statutory rape can be helpful in gaining a better understanding of the crime.
- Alex (17) and Sam (16) have been dating for three years. Alex and Sam decide that they are ready to have sex. When they do have sex, Alex is guilty of statutory rape. This is true even though he is also a minor. Courts have ruled that minors have no right to privacy to engage in sex.
- Alex (19) and Sam (16) are dating and have sex on a regular basis. Alex could be charged with statutory rape. Since the age difference between them is less than three years, Alex would be charged with misdemeanor statutory rape.
- Alex (20) is a college student who tutors Sam (15). The relationship develops into a romantic one, and they have sex. Alex could be charged with statutory rape. Since the age difference is more than three years, Alex could be charged with either misdemeanor or felony statutory rape.
- Alex (25) is a tennis instructor and has been giving lessons to Sam (17). The two spend a lot of time together and end up having sex after their lesson one day. Alex could be charged with felony statutory rape. Since Alex is over the age of 21, he would be charged with felony statutory rape.
- Alex (22) is a college senior who is hired to tutor Sam (15) in chemistry. Sam is very mature for her age and the two develop a close bond. One day during a tutoring session Sam gets up the nerve to seduce Alex. They end up having sex. Alex could be charged with felony statutory rape. Since Alex is over the age of 21 and Sam is under the age of 16, he could face up to 4 years in a California state prison.
How can I Defend Myself against Allegations of Statutory Rape?
It is possible to defend yourself against allegations of statutory rape in California. However, the number of defenses that can be successful is limited. It is important to know which arguments can and cannot be used to defend against allegations of statutory rape.
Arguments that are not defenses to statutory rape in California include the fact that:
- The victim was a consenting participant;
- You are also a minor;
- You or the victim are sterile;
- You believed the victim was over the age of 16; or
- The victim is married to another person.
Arguments that may be defenses to statutory rape in California include the fact that:
- You reasonably and honestly believed the victim was over the age of 18; and
- You were falsely accused of the crime.
Call San Diego Statutory Rape Defense Attorney Vikas Bajaj
Statutory rape can have very real and devastating consequences. In addition to facing possible jail time and being required to pay expensive fines, you would also have to face the reality of living with a criminal record. A criminal record can make it difficult to do many of the things we take for granted every day. Landlords may not want to rent you an apartment. Employers may decide to offer that great job to another applicant. A school may decline your application to study at their institution. In some cases, you may even be required to forfeit a professional license. The bottom line is that it is important to fiercely defend yourself against any criminal charges you face.
The best way to limit the negative consequences of an arrest for statutory rape is by hiring an experienced attorney. Vikas Bajaj is a skilled criminal defense attorney with more than 16 years of experience. He uses an aggressive pre-investigation process that is designed to limit the prosecution’s ability to build a strong case against you. This often results in getting the charges against his clients dismissed or reduced. Contact his San Diego office today to schedule your free consultation. He will review your case, determine possible defenses, and answer any questions you may have.