Age of Consent in California
In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered legally old enough to consent to participate in sexual conduct. In California, the age of consent is 18 years of age.
Individuals aged 17 or younger in California are not legally able to consent to sexual activity. Such activity may lead to statutory rape charges.
Statutory rape is considered a wobbler, which means it is a crime that can be a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged with misdemeanor statutory rape, the defendant may face a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000. If charged with felony statutory rape, then the defendant may face a maximum prison sentence of four years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Misdemeanor statutory rape involves a defendant no more than three years old than the victim. Felony statutory rape involves a defendant who is older than 21 years of age and the victim who is 16 years old or younger.
Keep in mind, California does not have a close-in-age exemption, also known as “Romeo and Juliet laws.” These laws are put in place to prevent the prosecution of individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity when both parties are close in age to each other, and one or both parties are below the age of consent. Since there is no such law in California, two individuals both under the age of 18 who consensually engage in sexual activity can both potentially be charged with statutory rape.