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What Are California’s Statutory Rape Laws?

handcuffed-manIt is illegal in California for an adult to have sexual intercourse with a minor. In the eyes of the law, an adult is any person 18 or older, and it is a crime even if the intercourse is consensual. Those who break this law are committing statutory rape.

The laws of statutory rape are based on the assumption that persons under the age of 18 are incapable of giving consent to intercourse or other sexual activities. It is called statutory rape because the minor’s inability to consent is written into the statute. In some states, the age of consent varies, making it permissible for an 18 year old to have sexual relations with a 17 year old, for example.

In the state of California, unlawful sexual intercourse occurs when a person 17 years old or younger has sexual relations with an adult of any age. Unlawful oral copulation involves oral sex between a person 17 or younger and an adult of any age. Other laws include sexual penetration, which makes it illegal to penetrate a minor who is 14 or 15 when the adult is at least 10 years older, and lewd and lascivious acts upon a child which is sexual relations with a child 13 or younger and an adult of any age.

Whether or not a charge of statutory rape is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the unique facts of the situation. It may depend on the age of the parties, among other factors. For instance, California’s “Romeo and Juliet Law” applies to minors who are no more than 3 years apart in age; in these instances, any charge would be dropped to a misdemeanor instead of a felony. When convicted of a misdemeanor, a person faces up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. When convicted of a felony, a person faces up to four years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines or any combination of those penalties.

In certain instances, a person may be required to register as a sexual offender. Once registered, there are many restrictions that are put in place, such as where a person is permitted to live and where they can work.

Being charged with statutory rape should not be taken lightly. If you have been charged with this crime in San Bernardino, you need an experienced attorney fighting for your rights. Reach out to our office now and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We are here to work for you, call today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.