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California Statutory Rape Laws (PC 261.5): FAQs – Unlawful Sex with a Teenager

Is statutory rape charged as a misdemeanor or felony?

It depends. Under California Statutory Rape Laws, if you are no more than three years older than the victim, the offense is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail. If you are at least 3 years older than the victim, the offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history. However, if you are 21 years of age or older and the victim is under the age of 16, the offense is charged as a felony punishable by 2, 3 or 4 years in county jail.

Can I be charged with statutory rape even if I was in a relationship with the victim?

It depends on the type of relationship. If you were in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with the victim, and he or she consented to having sexual intercourse, the law does not allow you to freely act on that desire if the victim is under 18 years of age. According to law, a minor is unable to give valid consent to a sexual act until he or she becomes a legal adult (18 years old). On the other hand if you are married to victim, you cannot be convicted of statutory rape even if your spouse is a minor.

Can I be charged with statutory rape for engaging in oral sex with a minor?

No. Statutory rape requires that you engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim which requires some sort of penetration of the vagina by the penis. Therefore, engaging in oral sex with a minor will not lead to criminal liability under California Penal Code section 261.5. However, you can still be charged with a separate offense known as oral copulation under California Penal Code section 288a.

Can I be convicted of statutory rape if the victim told me that she was 18 years of age or older?

Accordingly to California statutory rape laws, you are not guilty of the crime of statutory rape under California Penal Code section 261.5 if you had a good faith belief that the victim was 18 years of age or older. Although the victim may have lied about her age and you honestly believed that she was not a minor, the jury must also find that a reasonable person in your shoes would have held the same belief. In making this determination the jury will consider all the circumstances present at the time of the alleged offense, including the physical characteristics of the victim and any statements that she made to you. If a reasonable person would have believed that the victim was 18 years of age or older, you cannot be convicted of this offense.

Will I have to register as a sex offender if I am convicted of statutory rape?

Maybe. Although statutory rape is NOT listed under PC 290 as a crime that requires mandatory registration as a sex offender, if you are convicted of this offense, it is up to the court’s discretion whether or not to impose this penalty based upon the circumstances of your case, your prior criminal history, and a psychological evaluation. If you move to another state outside of California, you may be required to register with the law enforcement agency where you reside if that jurisdiction recognizes statutory rape as an offense requiring sex offender status. It is important that you contact your attorney prior to moving in order to discover whether the destination state requires registration for a conviction under this section.

If I have been charged with statutory rape under California Penal Code section 261.5, who should I call?

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience in successfully representing Southern California residents who have been charged with violation of California statutory rape Laws. Drawing from our extensive years of experience, we are available to answer any questions you have and are willing to go the extra mile in your defense.

If you are facing prosecution for statutory rape, call our talented and professional defense attorneys today at (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.

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