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Statutory Rape Law - California Penal Code 261.5 PC

Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing Individuals Facing Statutory Rape Charges

California Penal Code 261.5 PC - Statutory Rape
Penal Code 261.5 PC statutory rape law, makes it a crime to engage in unlawful sex with a minor under 18 years old.

Statutory rape criminal charges are covered under California Penal Code Section 261.5. Its basic definition is sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor under the age of 18 years old. Statutory rape is also known as unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sex with a minor. This sex crime offense can be filed even when the sexual intercourse was consensual because a minor can't legally give consent.

If the defendant is older than the alleged minor victim by three years or less, statutory rape charges will be filed as a misdemeanor sex crime offense. If they are more than three years older, the sex crime case can be filed as a felony or misdemeanor offense. Related statutory rape criminal offenses include: Lewd or lascivious acts with a child (California Penal Code Section 288); Rape (California Penal Code Section 261); Sexual battery (California Penal Code Section 243.4); Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child (California Penal Code Section 288.5).

If you are facing an allegation of having engaged in sexual relations with a minor, it's critical to call a Los Angeles statutory rape attorney at our law firm immediately. Our criminal defense lawyers have successfully represented clients who have been charged with unlawful sex with a minor. Since it may be possible you had a reasonable belief the alleged victim was 18 years or older, you need to allow us to thoroughly review all the details of the case to start forming a solid defense strategy. 

Statutory Rape – CA Penal Code 261.5 - Elements of the Crime

In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a statutory rape conviction, they must prove beyond any reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:

  • The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with another person. By law, sexual intercourse is defined as any amount of penetration. It does not matter if ejaculation occurred 
  • The victim was a minor under the age of 18 years old at the time the sexual intercourse occurred
  • The defendant and alleged victim were not married at the time of sexual intercourse

The prosecutor does not need to even attempt to prove in court that force may have been used or the minor did not give consent to sexual intercourse. Just the fact that sexual intercourse occurred between an adult and minor could be sufficient for a statutory rape conviction. 

If you have been accused of unlawful sexual intercourse with minor, do not make any statements to Los Angeles police detectives. Their job is to investigate in order to build a criminal case and make an arrest. They are not your friend. Don't help them. Anything you say will be used against you. If contacted, politely decline to make any statements. Instead, call a Los Angeles statutory rape lawyer at our office to review the details and discuss legal options. 

Legal Penalties for a Statutory Rape Conviction

If the defendant is convicted for a misdemeanor statutory rape case in Los Angeles County, the penalties can include up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail, a fine up to $1,000, and probation. If convicted of a felony statutory rape case, they could face penalties that include up to three years in a California state prison, a fine up to $10,000, and probation. If the defendant is 21 years old or more and the minor is under 16 years old, the penalty could include up to four years in a state prison. A conviction for statutory rape by itself would not typically require mandatory sex offender registration. Contact a Los Angles statutory rape attorney at our office for more information.

Legal Defenses against Statutory Rape Charges

Our experienced Los Angeles statutory rape lawyers can use a variety of effective defense strategies based on the specific circumstances and evidence. A skilled sex crime attorney understands there are specific legal defenses that may help a defendant in court. They include:

  • The defendant had an honest and reasonable belief the victim was 18 years old or more. This could be proven by statements made by the victim or where they met, such as a bar, night club, or an adult party.
  • False accusation. Sexual intercourse did not occur. We have learned that statutory rape accusations are sometimes made out of anger, revenge, or jealously. We have even seen false statutory rape accusations made by the parents of the minor who are very unhappy their child is dating an adult.

It's important to note again that consent is not a legal defense because minors under the age of 18 years old are legally deemed unable to give sexual consent in California. This means the minor could be the sexual aggressor and a willing participant and the defendant could still be convicted of statutory rape. Lawmakers believe a minor is too young to understand the consequences of their actions.

Call a Los Angeles Statutory Rape Defense Attorney

If you or a family member is facing accusations of statutory rape, a Los Angeles statutory rape attorney from our office understands the potential long-term consequences of a conviction. Our lawyers know this is a frightening, confusing, and even embarrassing situation. Our criminal defense law firm treats every client with respect and dignity. Our sex crime attorneys know from experience that many individuals have been falsely accused of statutory rape and will pursue every legal avenue to obtain the best possible outcome.

Our Los Angeles statutory rape lawyers will not overlook any possible legal defense and will typically complete our own independent investigation instead of relying on the report by a police detective. We have a history of success defending our clients against statutory rape charges. For example, in one case in the Malibu Superior Court, our client was formally charged with statutory rape after having a sexual relationship with a minor. After negotiating with the prosecutor, including a review of the evidence and our client's background, the sex crime allegations dismissed. We were able to obtain a favor plea bargain where our client received community service with no jail time.

Contact our law office for a free immediate response by calling 877-781-1570.

Related Pages: Rape | Solicitation of Prostitution | Failure to Register as Sex Offender

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