Hire a Statuatory Rape Attorney

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Statuatory rape charges are serious. Our top rated attorneys can help you navigate your case. View our guide for defense.

Los Angeles Statutory Rape Attorney

A person accused of statutory rape (also known as unlawful sexual intercourse) in Los Angeles and surrounding communities has particular need for the services of an experienced Los Angeles statutory rape attorney.

The criminal liability for a statutory rape charge hinges exclusively on the age of the victim; any person who has sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 18 can be charged with statutory rape.

Whether the victim consented to the sexual encounter or not is not an issue; only the age of the victim is important. The criminal exposure for statutory rape in California includes jail time, fines and possible registration as a sex offender. Many innocent people are accused of statutory rape. Those people need experienced Los Angeles statutory rape attorneys to defend them.

A person charged with statutory rape, or who is being investigated for statutory rape, needs the assistance a Los Angeles statutory rape attorney as soon as possible. Witnesses may have to be located. Text messages and emails may have to be retrieved. There are many ways to defend against a statutory rape charge.

The sooner the accused retains an experienced Los Angeles statutory rape lawyer, the sooner a defense can be built.

What is Statutory Rape?

California Penal Code 261.5 PC addresses statutory rape. Under that provision, statutory rape occurs when any person has sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 18.

Lack of consent is not an issue in statutory rape cases. Under California law, a minor cannot consent to having sexual intercourse.

Statutory rape can even be charged if the minor started the sexual encounter.

Some states have a “Romeo and Juliet” exception regarding statutory rape. In that instance, if two minors have sexual intercourse, and both are over 14 and within three years of age, there is no statutory rape. California does not have a Romeo and Juliet exception.

The only exception in California to statutory rape charges would be if the minors are married.

Defenses to a Charge of Statutory Rape

One defense to a statutory rape charge is that defendant had a good faith, reasonable belief the minor victim was of age (the “mistake of age” defense). For instance, the defendant might have met the minor at a party at which only adults attended.

Or the defendant could have met the victim at a bar or club where everyone must show proof of age to get in.

However, if the minor is obviously underage, this defense is not available.

  • Another defense could be that intercourse did not occur. Penalties for a Conviction of Statutory Rape

  • If the defendant is no more than three years older than the victim, statutory rape is a misdemeanor. A conviction in this instance carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail.

  • If the defendant is more than three years older than the victim, the case is a misdemeanor or felony. The decision on how to treat the charges will be made based on the facts of the case, at the discretion of the prosecutor.

  • If the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor, the penalty is up to one year in jail. If convicted of a felony, the sentence can be up to three years in county jail.

  • If the defendant is over 21, and the victim under 16, the case is a misdemeanor (up to one year in jail) or a felony. However, if the defendant is convicted of a felony, the jail sentence is up to four years in state prison.

There are also civil penalties (fines) for conviction of statutory rape. However, fines can only be charged against adults.

Unlike a felony conviction for rape, a person convicted of felony statutory rape does not have to automatically register as a sex offender. The sentencing judge has the discretion to require a person convicted of felony statutory rape to register as a sex offender if the facts warrant it.

What if Both Persons are Minors?

According to California Penal Code 261.5 PC, it is still considered a crime If two 17-year-olds agree to have sexual intercourse.

The real question in that situation is: which one is the victim, and which one is the rapist?

Most experienced Los Angeles statutory rape lawyers would suggest that, in that scenario, it is not likely that the police would file charges against the minors. They might choose to refer the minors to counselling centers.

If they filed charges against one minor, they would handle the case in juvenile court.

But what if a 19-year-old girl has sex with her 17-year-old boyfriend? In that instance, it is quite possible that the police would charge the girl with misdemeanor statutory rape.

Do Persons Convicted of Statutory Rape in California Have to Register as Sex Offenders?

In California, persons convicted of sex crimes may have to register as a sex offender with law enforcement. Conviction of certain offenses, such as rape, require the convicted person to register. However, conviction on a charge of statutory rape does not automatically place one on the sex offender registry.

In January 2022, California amended its sex offender registry program. Previously, persons convicted of some sex offenses had to register as a sex offender for life. Currently, Penal Code 290 has put in place a three-tiered sex offender registry:

Tier One

Tier One is meant for people convicted of low-level sex crimes such as misdemeanor sexual battery, lewdness, etc. Placement on Tier One lasts for 10 years.

Tier Two

Persons convicted of more serious sex crimes, primarily involving victims incapable of giving consent because of a mental disorder, are placed on Tier Two. Registration at the Tier Two level is for 20 years.

Tier Three

Persons convicted of felony sex crimes, such as rape, kidnapping in furtherance of rape and child trafficking are placed on Tier Three for life.

Persons placed on Tier One or Two must petition a court to be removed from the registry at the end of the specified time period.

Persons convicted of statutory rape are not required to register as a sex offenders. However, the prosecutor may recommend to the judge that a particular defendant convicted of statutory rape be placed on the registry, most likely

Tier One. Or a judge, in her own discretion, may decide to place that person on Tier One.

In making that decision, the judge will consider whether the defendant acted based on “sexual compulsion” or for “sexual gratification.”

Experienced Los Angeles statutory rape lawyers would say that this issue depends on the facts of the particular case. It is not likely that, in the case of an 18-year-old man convicted of having sexual intercourse with his 16-year-old girlfriend, the 18-year-old would have to register as a sex offender.

On the other hand, if a 35-year-old man had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl, he would stand a good chance of having to register.

If a person with prior sex crimes was convicted of statutory rape, that person would be a candidate for placement on the registry. If the statutory rape case involved another crime, such as kidnapping or assault, the judge could order that person to register.

Contact Perlman & Cohen

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will vigorously fight statutory rape charges on behalf of their clients. Remember, in order to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove every element of a statutory rape charge beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a very high standard of proof.

Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. They have represented defendants in all types of criminal cases in Los Angeles courts for years. They know the judges, prosecutors and court staff.

If you or a loved one have been charged with statutory rape, Perlman & Cohen will investigate the incident, collect all relevant evidence, interview police witnesses and find witnesses who may be helpful to your defense. In appropriate cases, they will negotiate a plea to lesser charges from a position of strength.

Otherwise, they will prepare the case for trial and hold prosecutors to that high standard of proof. Call them at (310) 299-0062 to set up a free consultation so they can help you begin the fight against the statutory rape charges and protect your rights.

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