California Statutory Rape

Under California Penal Code Section 261.5, statutory rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse accomplished by a person older then 18 with a female or male who is a minor( older than 14 years old but below the age of 18) and not the spouse of the perpetrator. The crime is considered to be occurred even if the underage person gave consent. Moreover, it is set forth enhanced penalties for perpetrators who are a teacher or a clergyman. Moreover, the penalties vary depending on the age difference between the adult and the minor. If the difference is more than three (3) years, the offense will be charged as a felony. Additionally, the penalties increase if the adult is over 21 and the minor is under 16 years old.
There are not so many situations when the accused can be aware of the fact being engaged in the sexual intercourse with a minor. Convicted persons can face the following penalties for committing statutory rape: jail or prison time, thousands of dollars fines.
Below, The Margarian Law Firm will introduce you the main elements of the California Statutory Rape Laws. Moreover, in the resources of our site you can find detailed information about different kind of Sex Crimes in California.

1. Legal Definition of Statutory Rape under California Law
a) Sexual Intercourse between Two Minors
2. Criminal Elements of the Statutory Rape
3. Punishment for Committing California Statutory Rape
4. Defenses to the Accusations
5. Related Crimes
6. Related Articles

Moreover, we are ready to provide answers to your initial questions concerning sex crime charges in California for free.


1. What Does Statutory Rape Mean under California Law?

Under California Penal Code 261.5, unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the person is a minor.

A “minor” is defined as a person under the age of 18 years and an “adult” is a person who is at least 18 years of age. Thus, it is presumed that a minor because of his or her mental capabilities is not allowed to give consent to have sexual intercourse with an adult.

Unlike “forcible rape,” the victims are willingly engaged in the intercourse but because he or she is underage, they cannot give consent to the sexual act. However, if the act involves force or coercion, the offense should be prosecuted as child molestation or aggravated rape.

a) Can two minors have sex in California?

The answer is No. Depending on the age, the offenders will either go to juvenile court or under certain circumstances the case can be moved to adult court.


2. What Should The Prosecution Prove in Order to Convict the Defendant?

Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, the prosecution in order to prove that the defendant is guilty of statutory rape must establish the following facts:

1. The defendant had sexual intercourse with another person;
2. The defendant and the other person were not married to each other at the time of the intercourse;

3. At the time of the intercourse, the other person was under the age of 18 but not more than three years (younger/ older) than the defendant(in case of misdemeanor charge);
3. The defendant was at least 21 years old and the partner was under the age of 16 years at the time of the sexual intercourse(in case of felony charge).

Sexual intercourse is defined as any penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or genitalia by the penis.


3. What are the Penalties for Committing Statutory Rape in California?

In California, statutory rape can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending upon specific factors of the crime.
The Court firstly considers the following circumstances of the crime to incriminate the crime:
a) Victim’s age;
b) The age difference between perpetrator and victim.

Additionally, the Court can take into consideration the following factors:
a) Criminal record of the perpetrator;
b) Whether alcohol or controlled substances are used before committing the crime;
c) Whether the intercourse resulted in pregnancy;
d) Etc.

If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor offense, he or she may face the following penalties:
– California summary or informal probation
– Up to one (1) year in county jail
– A fine up to $1000.

Persons charged with a felony offense can be ordered to the following penalties:
– Up to two (2), three (3) or four (4) years in state prison;
– A fine up to $10.000.

Additionally, the perpetrator can be requested to pay civil penalties which depending on the specific circumstances of the crime can be up to $25.000.


4. How Can I Fight Against Statutory Rape Accusations in California?
Remember: it is not considered to be a defense if the minor consented to be involved in the sexual intercourse.
The most effective defense is to prove that the defendant had a good faith and belief that the minor was 18 years old or over. Thus, the defendant is not guilty of the statutory rape if he or she reasonably and actually believed that the other person did not be a minor. It should be mentioned that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in a good faith.
Moreover, it can occur that completely innocent people would be accused of California statutory rape. Your defense attorney can use various legal defenses in order to get the best possible outcome for you. Below, you can find some of them:
False accusations
Plea bargain and dismissals
State of insanity
False confessions
– Mistaken Identity.


5. Rape-Related Crimes

California rape law, besides statutory rape, includes the following rape-related crimes:
Rape(California Penal Code 261 PC),
– Spousal Rape (California Penal Code 262 PC),
– Date Rape,
Oral Copulation by Force( California Penal Code 266c PC)
– Forcible Penetration with a Foreign Object (California Penal Code 289 PC).

6. What Do I Need to Know About Sex-Crimes in California

The Margarian Law Firm is ready to provide you with additional information about other California Sex Crimes in this site. There are a variety of sex crimes that fall under the umbrella of California law, including:

California Sex Crimes



Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public – California Penal Code 647(a)

Oral Copulation by Force or Fear

Sexual Assault Laws

Pimping and Pandering Laws

Prostitution & Solicitation Laws

Internet Pornography

Sex Offender Registration

Have you or a loved one been accused of statutory rape in California? The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Direct approach with our clients allows us to easily obtain dismiss or reduction of the charges. Additionally, we provide a flat fee agreed upon before we begin. Feel free to contact us!

You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000

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