For many sex-related crimes, there is an important and powerful defense available to the defendant. If you received consent from the other person to engage in sexual activity, you should not be found guilty of the sex crime.
However, statutory rape (as well as other sex-related crimes involving a minor) is distinctly different from those crimes in one important aspect: minors cannot legally consent to sexual activity.
What is Statutory Rape? (PC 261.5)
Under California Penal Code Section 261.5, statutory rape is defined as an act of sexual intercourse with a person who is under the age of 18 when the person is not the spouse of the perpetrator.
If you are convicted of statutory rape, you face serious criminal penalties. The punishment you face depends on the factors of the case and your age relative to the victim. Statutory rape carries up to four years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Consent is Not a Defense to Statutory Rape Charges
Notice, unlike many other sex-related crimes, the definition of statutory rape makes no mention about the victim’s having resisted or withholding his or her consent. To understand why the victim having consented to sexual intercourse is not a defense to statutory rape, we must explore why, under the laws of California and many other states, a person under the age of 18 is not legally able to provide consent to another person to perform a sex act.
Why do we limit the choices of minors in this way? Society views minors as having immature minds and emotional control. This immaturity renders minors incapable of fully understanding the possible consequences of important decisions such as whether or not to engage in sexual activity with another person.
What are Some Valid Legal Defenses to Statutory Rape Charges?
Despite consent not being a valid defense to a statutory rape charge under PC 261.5, there are a number of possible legal defenses that could be used in your case.
For example, if you reasonably believed that the victim was age 18 or older, you have a defense to the crime of statutory rape. Under CALCRIM 1072, the prosecution is tasked with the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not “reasonably and actually believe that the other person was at least 18 years old.” This means that if you can show evidence that the alleged victim claimed he or she was 18 or older or if the circumstances led you to believe that was true, you have a valid defense to statutory rape charges.
So, if witnesses can testify that the alleged victim showed a fake ID to get into a bar where you met him or her, that is evidence that would lead you to reasonably believe the other person was an adult.
Another possible legal defense is that no intercourse took place. Sadly, in many statutory rape cases, the person accused is falsely accusation. This may be due to anger, jealousy or revenge on the part of the alleged victim. Remember, the burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that sexual intercourse (however slight the penetration may have been) took place.
Contact the Statutory Rape Defense Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich
Statutory rape charges carry serious consequences. That is why you should speak with an experienced statutory rape defense attorney if you or someone you love is accused of this crime. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of statutory rape. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich statutory rape defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.