The age of consent is 18 years old, which basically means that before you can have any type of sexual contact or sexual intercourse with someone they have to be at least 18 years old.
This is not the same in all states, but it definitely is in Los Angeles, California. If the prosecutors find out that someone has engaged in some sort of sexual activity with someone who is under the age of 18 and they feel they have the evidence to prosecute that person, they will charge that person with a sex crime or multiple sex crimes depending on the circumstances and prosecute them.
What if the Sex Acts were Consensual?
Or, I've seen this come up time-and-time again where someone has consensual sex with another person under the age of 18, that person becomes pregnant, goes to the hospital, has their child and they want to know who the father is at the hospital.
Once it's determined that the father is someone who is over the age of 18 and the individual who is giving birth is under the age of 18, at that point the police will be contacted and they will attempt to do a DNA test and prove that the father had sex with someone under the age of 18 and they prosecute those cases all the time throughout Los Angeles, California.
Where it starts to become a little more dicey is when two parties under the age of 18 have consensual sex. That puts the police and prosecutors in a very difficult position as to who to prosecute, and a lot of times they don't prosecute those cases.
Now, if it's a situation where there's any type of force, obviously they will prosecute the individual who forced themselves upon another person related to sexual contact.
But, if it's consensual and the ages are relatively close – for example, two 17-year old's have sex, in my experience it's unlikely to see that prosecuted by the police and prosecutors.
For one thing, neither party is going to be a witness against the other because they're both probably together, and secondly, because if they were to testify against one party, they themselves would be subject to cross-examination and they could potentially be prosecuted the other way.
Prosecution of Two Underage Parties
So, it's very difficult to prosecute cases where two parties are under age for some sort of a sex-related offense. As far as cases where it's close – maybe one party is 18 and one party is 17, a lot of times they're not going to prosecute those particular cases, but the further apart away the ages are, the more likely the prosecutors are to prosecute a particular case.
Obviously, they're trying to do justice and do what they think is right. Also, they need to have the availability of witnesses and testimony to be able to prosecute anybody for anything because the prosecutors know that a good criminal defense attorney will attack their evidence when they are able to do so.
So, these under-age sex cases are being filed all the time, and the bottom line is that when they test whether someone knew or reasonably should have known that the other party was under age, they're going to look at a lot of surrounding facts.
If they can't get clear evidence that the party who had sex with the under-age person knew that the person was under age, then that would certainly be a defense in any sex crime prosecution in Los Angeles. So, that's what they're going to try to do first.
In other words, if the person's age is close to 18 and they look 18 or more, then the prosecutors and police know that it's crucial for them to prove that in fact the other party knew or reasonably should have known based on the circumstances, that they were having some sort of sexual contact with somebody under the age of 18.
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