Let’s say that an 18-year-old man is at a party with a girl who is only fifteen years old. They get to dancing and enjoying the night together, and pretty soon they end up having sex – which she consented to. The next day, word gets around and the man is arrested. If consent was given, how is this the case? The arrest took place due to statutory rape laws. These laws have been created on the premise that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to any sexual activities. In California, the law says that it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor under 18 even if the sex is consensual. Not every state follows the same age requirements so you may notice that the law varies from state to state.
You may wonder what penalties you will sustain for the crime of statutory rape. However, this is not simple to answer because it’s really dependent upon the age of the victim as well as yourself, and what crime actually took place. Here are some examples:
- Unlawful Sexual Intercourse: This crime covers any sexual intercourse or penetration between a minor under 17 and a defendant of any age.
- Unlawful Oral Copulation: This is the same as sexual intercourse, but with oral copulation.
- Sexual Penetration: This includes sexual intercourse or penetration between a minor who is 14 or 15 and a defendant who is at least ten years older than the minor.
- Lewd and Lascivious Acts Upon a Child: This includes sexual contact between a minor who is 13 or younger and a defendant of any age or someone who is 14 or 15 and a defendant who is ten years older.
Statutory Rape Marital Exception: There is a marital exception that means that, if somebody is not of consensual age but is married, they are then permitted to have sex. Take for instance a couple who got married when the girl was 16 and the man was 23. The 23-year-old need not fear facing criminal charges for having sex with his wife, because it is not against the law.
“Romeo and Juliet” Exception: In some situations, teenagers who are close in age will have sex and under these laws, it will not be found to be illegal. However, there are certain requirements that must be met. In California, the laws apply to minors who are three or fewer years apart in age. In some cases, it may still be seen as illegal and the defense will only change it from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Mistake of Age: Perhaps the defendant was unaware that the plaintiff was so young. In this case, if he can prove that there was a lie involved with the age and shows evidence of such, they may be relieved of the crime.
What isn’t a defense? Consent is not a valid defense under California’s statutory rape laws. This means that, even if a minor stands there and consents to the intercourse through a verbal agreement, it is still prohibited. Even if the alleged perpetrator and victim are both minors, it still doesn’t matter – this is the law. In many of these cases, however, charges will not be brought unless the parents seek to charge.
If you have been accused of statutory rape charges, you may have questions. You may wonder where you can turn or how you can avoid receiving serious penalties or having to register as a sex offender for years to come. This is why you should have a legal representative on your side through every step of the process. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today for more information on your case!