Definition and Aspects of Statutory Rape:
Under California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5), it is against the law to have sexual intercourse with a minor to whom the Defendant isn’t married. For this statute, it does not matter whether the intercourse was consensual, forced, or even initiated by the minor. Statutory Rape is a misdemeanor or even felony-level offense and can result in jail time and severe fines.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant had sexual intercourse with another person
- The Defendant and the Victim involved were not married to each other at the time of the incident
- The victim was a minor at the time
A minor is defined as anyone under the legal age of 18.
For this statute, it does not matter what type of sexual intercourse occurred or if it reached completion. Any act of sexual nature with a minor involved is prohibited.
It is also important to note that if Defendant and the alleged victim are married to someone else, this statute still applies. Whether or not the underaged Victim is married to a third person does not matter for California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5).
Finally, the Prosecution has to prove that the Defendant and Victim had intercourse or that the Victim hadn’t consented to the actions. This differs from California’s other rape laws, where the main argument is the lack of consent from the Victim. Under California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5), if the minor initiated or agreed to the actions, it would still be against the law.
A minor can also be charged with California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5). This may seem counterintuitive as Defendant is also a Victim, but it is the law. While most Prosecutors do not tend to go after consenting minors, a charge could still occur. In this case, a minor would be tried in the juvenile court system.
Criminal Offenses Related to Statutory Rape:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5), Statutory Rape:
- Rape – California Penal Code 261 (PC 261)
- Lewd Acts with a Minor – California Penal Code 288 (PC 288)
Examples of Statutory Rape:
A nineteen-year-old girl is dating a seventeen-year-old boyfriend. Over time, their romantic relationship develops into a physical one. They were both consensual participants, but given the boyfriend’s age, the nineteen-year-old girlfriend could be charged with California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5), Statutory Rape.
A twenty-one-year-old male attends a house party where he meets a girl. At the end of the night, their relationship becomes physical. It is only in the morning that he finds out she was only sixteen years old. While the encounter was consensual, the male could still be charged with Statutory Rape (PC 261.5) as he engaged in sexual relations with a minor.
Defenses for Statutory Rape:
Since technically, Statutory Rape (PC 261.5) covers sexual acts with a minor, even if those acts were consensual, it is often hard to prove that it happened. Thus, insufficient evidence is a common defense used for charges related to California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5). An experienced defense attorney could help break down the circumstantial evidence and build a strong defense in cases related to Statutory Rape.
False accusations are also not uncommon, where an alleged Victim incorrectly claims the sexual acts occurred or names the wrong person.
Additionally, the alleged Victim’s age is an essential factor in California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5) cases. If the Defendant was under the impression that the Victim was a legal adult and it would appear to a reasonable person that the victim was over the age of eighteen, the charges could be lessened or dropped altogether, especially if the Victim provided fake identification to trick the Defendant into the relationship.
Lastly, Statutory Rape (PC 261.5) is a serious offense and should be treated as such. In a tense situation, law enforcement can make mistakes or even coerce a confession out of the Defendant. A seasoned attorney could ensure the Defendant received fair treatment and a strong representation.
Consequences and Penalty for Statutory Rape:
California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5) is a wobbler offense, meaning it could be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the crime’s details. These are the determining factors a Judge and Jury would look at:
- If the Defendant is no more than three years older than the Victim, Statutory Rape is always a misdemeanor
- If the Defendant is more than three years older than the victim, it is a wobbler offense
- If the Defendant is twenty-one or older and the victim is under the age of sixteen, it is a wobbler offense; however, it’ll most likely end in a felony with more severe consequences
If California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5) is charged as a misdemeanor, the punishment is a jail sentence of up to one year, up to $1,000 in fines, and probation time.
On the other hand, if the Defendant gets convicted of a felony, the punishment increases to fines up to $10,000, probation with up to one year in county jail, or 16 months – 3 years in custody. If the victim was under the age of sixteen, and the Defendant was twenty-one or older at the time of the incident, the penalties go up to 2 – 4 years in custody.
Additionally, if the Defendant is eighteen years old or older, other civil penalties could apply. The maximum penalty dictates as:
- $2,000 if the Victim is less than two years younger than the Defendant
- $5,000 if the Victim is at least two years younger than the Defendant
- $10,000 if the Victim is at least three years younger than the Defendant
- $25,000 if the Victim is under the age of 16, and the Defendant is over 21 years old
Statutory Rape, under California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5), is a wobbler offense that can result in jail time, severe fines, and possible life-altering consequences. You must contact an expert attorney as soon as possible if you or someone you know is charged with Statutory Rape.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of Rape and other Sexual Abuse related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 261.5 (PC 261.5), Statutory Rape. Book a free consultation today.