Statutory Rape Lawyer Long Beach
When people hear the word rape, they normally think of forcible sexual assault or any other type of sexual intercourse which is perpetrated against the will of one of the parties. The fact is that this is not always the case. Under California law, a person younger than the age of 18 years cannot legally give consent to have sex, so an adult who engages in intercourse with a minor can be charged with a crime.
Unlawful Sex With A Minor
This is true regardless of whether or not the two were in a committed romantic relationship, if they both agreed to it or even if the younger party initiated the sexual contact. The only exception to this is if the two parties were married at the time, since state law allows a minor to marry with parental consent.
The age difference between you and the alleged victim is the primary factor which determines whether you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony and what penalties you could receive if convicted. If the age gap is no greater than three years, the crime is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If it is greater, you may either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, with a maximum sentence of three years in prison. In addition to the criminal sentence, you could be subjected to a civil penalty of up to $25,000 in fines.
Defense Strategies for Statutory Rape
There are multiple strategies for defending against a charge of statutory rape. If you and the other party did in fact have sex, the best approach is most likely to build a convincing argument that you honestly believed that he or she was of the age of consent based on the circumstances of the situation. In other cases it is necessary to demonstrate that the defendant is the target of false allegations. For example, you might have abstained from having sex because you did not want to break the law, only to have your partner accuse you of statutory rape in an effort to punish you for breaking up or being unfaithful.
It is not always the alleged victim who levels the accusation; in some cases the parent will call the police after discovering that the child has been sexually active, but the complaint may be based on false information. When you bring the case to the Long Beach criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Falangetti & Weimortz, we will put all of our investigative skill as former prosecutors to work for you in finding the evidence necessary to defend your rights. Call us at (562) 256-7140 to schedule a no-cost legal consultation.