Statutory rape is a serious crime. It is defined as engaging in sexual activities with someone below the age of consent. If you have been accused of statutory rape, the consequences can be severe and life-altering. A statutory rape conviction can result in you being:
- Required to complete community service
- Placed on probation
- Required to register as a sex offender
If you’re facing statutory rape charges in California, you should know there are several legal defenses you may be able to use to fight these charges.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss five legal defenses for a statutory rape charge in California and how these defenses can be used to protect your rights.
Common Defenses for a Statutory Rape Charge in California
There are quite a few legal defenses that can help people accused of statutory rape in California fight the charges and protect their rights. Here are five of the most common statutory rape charge defenses used in California:
- Mistake of Age or Lack of Knowledge: One defense often used in statutory rape cases is mistake of age. To use a mistake of age defense, defendants must prove that they genuinely and reasonably believed that the alleged victim was either of legal age or older (at least 18 years old). Another statutory rape charge defense commonly used is lack of knowledge. This defense involves proving that the accused was unaware of the victim's age at the time of the sexual act. For instance, if the victim lied about their age and the accused genuinely and reasonably believed them.
- False Accusations: This defense involves proving that the accuser lied about the statutory rape. In such situations, the accused’s defense attorney must show that the victim lied about the sexual encounter. This can often be accomplished by gathering evidence that proves no sexual activity occurred.
- Mistaken Identity: In some cases, the accused may be wrongly accused of statutory rape. For instance, the victim may have confused the accused with someone else or misidentified the accused. A defense attorney can present evidence, such as alibis, witnesses, or video footage to prove that the accused was not present or did not engage in sexual activities with the victim.
- Coercion or Duress: This defense strategy involves proving the accused only engaged in sexual activities with the victim because they were under duress or coerced. This defense may work if it can be proven that the accused was threatened or forced to perform sexual activities to avoid physical harm or other forms of pressure.
- Marital Exception: In California, the marital exemption allows minors to engage in consensual sexual activity with their partner if they are legally married. It's important to note that this exemption is only applicable under specific circumstances.
In California, there is an age-based exemption for statutory rape. This means that if the defendant is three years older (or less) than the minor at the time of the incident or incidents, the charge can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in certain cases.
It's important to note that this exemption does not dismiss or negate the offense because the act itself is still illegal under California law. However, by reducing the charge, the penalties the defendant faces are often less severe, including lower fines and less prison time.
The statutory rape charge defenses and exceptions outlined above are just a few examples of the available legal defenses you can use if you’re charged with statutory rape in California.
Speak with Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Situation for Free Today
If you have been accused of statutory rape, retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney is paramount. At The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, our commitment is to assist our clients in achieving favorable outcomes, which may include charge reduction or complete case dismissal. Our skilled sex crimes defense attorney will thoroughly investigate your arrest, gather crucial evidence, and create a personalized defense strategy for you.
To learn more about The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, read our clients’ testimonials.
Give us a call at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online today for a free consultation.