September 27, 2016 By Stephen Klarich

Statutory Rape in California (PC 261.5)


Under California Penal Code Section 261.5, it is illegal for you to have sexual intercourse with any person who is under the age of 18 who is not your spouse. It does not matter if you were also under 18 at the time the incident occurred; you could still be charged with statutory rape.

That is one of the reasons why statutory rape is a confusing crime. Our experienced sex crimes attorneys have been successfully handling statutory rape cases for more than 35 years. Let us help you understand this crime.

Is Consent a Defense to Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape is a crime that is often misunderstood. Unlike the crime of rape, you could be charged with statutory rape even if the alleged victim appeared to consent to or initiate sexual intercourse.

That is because California law considers minors incapable of providing consent for sex. Having consent is not an element that the prosecution must prove in order to convict you of statutory rape.

What Are the Consequences of Statutory Rape?

Under PC 261.5, statutory rape is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

One factor that is used to determine if you should be charged with a felony or misdemeanor is the age difference between you and the minor.

  • If you and the minor are within three years of each other’s age, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor.
  • If you are more than three years older than the alleged victim, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
  • If you are 21 years old or older and the alleged victim is under the age of 16, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, and you could face an enhanced punishment.

Misdemeanor statutory rape is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of $1,000.

If you are charged with a felony, you are not over the age of 21, and the victim is 16 or older, you could be sentenced to up to three years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you are 21 or older and the victim was under the age of 16, you could be sentenced to up to four years in state prison and fined up to $10,000.

Do I Have to Register as a Sex Offender for Statutory Rape? (PC 290)

Unlike other sex offenses, a statutory rape conviction does not automatically require you to register as a sex offender. However, the judge has the power to impose this requirement on you under California Penal Code Section 290.006.

In order to impose this additional penalty on you, the court must find at the time of conviction or sentencing that you committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification.

If the judge decides this is true in your case, you could be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

The Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Can Help You

If you are facing statutory rape charges, you could be sentenced to jail time and expensive fines. The best thing you could do now is speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, we have been successfully defending clients in statutory rape cases for over 35 years. We have the knowledge and skill needed to fight these charges, and we are dedicated to delivering you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Victorville, West Covina, San Diego and Torrance, there is a skilled Wallin & Klarich rape attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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