What is the California Rape Shield Law? (California Evidence Code 1103)
Under California Evidence Code Section 1103, a defendant in a rape case cannot introduce evidence about the alleged victim’s past sexual history to prove that the victim consented to the sexual act.
The law was enacted to provide extra protection for victims of sex crimes against surprises during trial, harassment and unnecessary invasion of privacy.
This law can put defendants at a disadvantage when trying to prove that the sexual encounter with the alleged victim was consensual. However, with an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney, you may be able to introduce evidence without breaking California’s rape shield laws.
Cases Where the California Rape Shield Law Applies
Under California Evidence Code Section 1103, the rape shield law applies to the following cases:
- Rape under Penal Code 261;
- Spousal/marital rape under Penal Code 262;
- Rape in concert under Penal Code 264.1;
- Sodomy under Penal Code 286;
- Oral copulation by force under Penal Code 288(a); and
- Forcible penetration with a foreign object under Penal Code 289.
How the California Rape Shield Law Works Under Evidence Code Section 1103
A defendant accused of rape admits to having sex with the accuser but argues that the sex was consensual. The defendant wants to introduce evidence that the accuser is sexually promiscuous in order to prove that the accuser consented. That evidence is not admissible under California’s rape shield law.
Evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual partners or past sexual conduct with others that do not involve the defendant cannot be used to prove consent.
Evidence Involving Past Sexual History with the Defendant
The rape shield law does not apply to evidence about the accuser’s past sexual history with the defendant. The defendant is able to introduce this evidence to prove consent.
The defendant can provide evidence of a sexual history with the accuser that was consensual prior to the alleged victim’s accusations to help prove consent. It is important to have an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney who can help build your case with this type of evidence.
California’s rape shield law also applies to Evidence Code Section 782, which states that it may be permissible to introduce evidence about the alleged victim’s past sexual history to challenge the accuser’s credibility.
This is different from Evidence Code Section 1103, which addresses evidence to prove consent.
Under Evidence Code Section 782, evidence is introduced to question whether the accuser should be believed based on:
- Capacity to recall what the accuser is testifying about;
- Character for honesty or dishonesty;
- Bias, interest or other motive; or
- Statements that are inconsistent with accuser’s testimony.
Under Evidence Code Section 782, the defendant may be able to use evidence of the accuser’s past sexual conduct with others if it is relevant to the issues described above.
For example, a defendant can help his/her claim that there was never a sexual relationship with the accuser by presenting evidence that the accuser is only accusing the defendant of rape to cover up a sexual relationship with another person.
Evidence under Evidence Code Section 782 must be filed under seal in a written motion to the court before trial. The judge will decide whether or not to admit the evidence at trial. It is important to have an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney to work with you to present this evidence to the court.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a charge of rape, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully handling rape charges in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you are located.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.