Can I Be Charged with Statutory Rape if it was Consensual?
In the state of California, you could be charged with statutory rape if you, as an adult, have engaged in sexual intercourse with a minor (i.e. someone under the age of 18). Since the age of consent is 18, the law states that a minor cannot legally agree to engage in sexual intercourse—regardless of whether or not they wanted to participate in the sex act at the time. While this scenario may not seem like it fits the definition of rape, which involves forcing another person to engage in sexual intercourse against their will, it is still against the law. Even if both parties have been involved in a long-term relationship, one could be charged with statutory rape if they have sex with their partner before they have reached the legal age of consent.
That being said, proving that the sex was consensual will not necessarily help your case. The only way that you could effectively fight a statutory rape charge would be to show that:
- You had reason to believe that the minor was over the age of 18
- You did not actually engage in sexual intercourse with the minor
- You were falsely accused of committing statutory rape
The penalties for statutory rape in California are often severe, depending on how the crime is ultimately prosecuted. Since statutory rape is a "wobbler" offense, it could either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony sex crime. This determination will be made by looking at the age of both the victim and the offender. For example, statutory rape will always be charged as a misdemeanor if the offender is no more than three years older than the victim. If the age difference exceeds three years, the crime could be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony; however, if the victim is 16 or younger and the offender is 21 or older, the crime will most likely be prosecuted as a felony. This means that the penalties could range from 1 year in county jail to 4 years in state prison.
If you are currently facing statutory rape charges, it is imperative that you move quickly to secure the help of a San Diego criminal defense lawyer from JD Law. Regardless of how you found yourself in this position, you are innocent until you have been proven guilty by a jury of your peers. For this reason, you should waste no time in building an effective legal defense. When you contact our office today at (619) 377-3722, you can schedule a confidential meeting with our Certified Criminal Defense Specialist, James N. Dicks. He has successfully defended clients throughout Southern California for many years, so you can trust that your future is in good hands when you trust in our firm to represent you.