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Statutory Rape - PC 261.5

Statutory Rape Laws in California - Penal Code 261.5

Having defended these cases for the past 25 years, I know exactly what is on the line and what needs to be done to avoid going to prison, having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, and some of the other damaging consequences that a statutory rape case can bring.

To best defend these cases, we need to account for the good factors that we have on our side and the ones we will need to deal with the judge and prosecutor.

The more good factors that we can show are on our side, and the better we can counter the wrong factors, the more likely we will be successful in defense of your case.

General Information:

The factors that I am talking about relate to your likelihood of doing this again (recidivism), the differences in ages between the two individuals involved in the case, whether the crime was consensual or not, and amount of times the two parties have been engaged sexually.

I often see that the parties have both agreed to engage in sexual activities, and the younger person's parents have found out about their relationship and contacted the authorities.

Again, depending on the age differences between the parties and the victim's age, this will likely determine how the judge and prosecutor feel about the case. Having a seasoned sex crime attorney who has handled many statutory rape-type cases is crucial for your success.


One significant element that the prosecutors must prove in a statutory rape case is that you knew or reasonably should have known that the alleged victim was under the age of 18.

Sometimes the alleged victim will lie about their age, and the defendant will have a legitimate argument that they did not know they were with someone under the age of consent. The victim will be too young for a jury to believe that the defendant did not know their age.

This is an issue you must discuss with your sex crime defense attorney so you make the right decision in defense of your case. Another issue that arises in statutory rape cases is that the age of the two parties is very close, and they met each other while they were both underage.

Then one of them turns 18, and at some point, the police are alerted to their relationship. Under these circumstances, the prosecutors typically do not like to get involved with these cases. It will take the right circumstances for them to the prosecutor, the party who is over 18.

See Related: Unlawful Sexual Intercourse With Minor More Than Three Years Younger.


In a prosecutor for statutory rape under California Penal Code 261.5 PC, the prosecutors must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction (CALCRIM 1102): 

  • defendant was involved with an act of sexual penetration with the other person, typically sexual intercourse (kissing and touch would not be enough to meet this element);
  • victim was under the age of 18 years old at the time of the penetration; and
  • defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was under 18 years old.

To be convicted of statutory rape, the prosecutors must meet all of their elements, or the jury will find the defendant not guilty. When I meet with clients, we go over all of the elements and determine whether we believe the prosecutors can prove their case or not.

Once we know the strength of the other sides' evidence, we can start to make the decisions that will set the course of the defense in the case. This first meeting is crucial to the successful defense of a statutory rape case, and it is a meeting where everyone must be straightforward and honest so that we can make the right decisions right from the beginning of the case.

Sex crime charges are serious charges that can lead to permanent marks on your record. If you or someone you know is being charged with a sex crime, contact our sex crime defense lawyers to get on board with you and help you.

If you are explicitly facing statutory rape charges, our sex crime lawyers can help you. We can assert several defenses on your behalf, and our aggressive legal strategy and persistence help us get the favorable results we are aiming for.

What are the Penalties for Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape involves having sex with a minor, whether consensual or non-consensual, and is a wobbler. It can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are no more than three years older than the victim and are being charged with statutory rape, the offense is charged as a misdemeanor.

If you are more than three years older or over 21 and the victim is under 16, the offense may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

See related: California Jury Instruction for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor Under 14. If you or someone you know is facing statutory rape charges, do not waste any time and contact our criminal defense lawyers for a free face-to-face consultation.

We will discuss all your options and use our skills, knowledge, and experience to get you the best possible results. The protection of your legal rights and freedom is our primary objective. Contact our sex crime defense attorneys today!

I Was Charged With Statutory Rape, But The Sex Was Consensual

If you've been charged with statutory rape, the victim was under 18. You cannot have any sexual contact with anyone under 18 in Los Angeles, California. There's no exception to this.

I see people claiming that the parents know about it. If the parents know about it, they can get charged for learning and not doing something about it. They can also have the underage person taken away from them.

There is no such thing as consent when someone is under 18. Even if they do it willingly, it is still a crime. However, if two people are very close in age, perhaps one is 18, and one is 17; often, the police are not even going to get involved.

Is it Possible to be Charged With The Rape Of My Spouse?

It is possible to rape your spouse because even your spouse has to consent to sex. If you forcibly attack your spouse and are physical with them in a sexual way, and they tell you no, that could be charged as rape. Depending on what happened, there can also be a host of other charges that can be filed.

All across the United States, a wife or husband has the right to refuse to have sex with their spouse, and the other person must abide by their wishes, and if they don't, they can be charged with rape.

What Are The Penalties For Hiring A Prostitute?

If you hire a prostitute, you will be charged with solicitation of prostitution. Depending on what you do and the circumstances, there are other crimes that you could also be charged with.

If you get convicted of soliciting a prostitute, usually they make you take certain classes related to people who commit sex offenses. Potentially, they could try to make you register as a sex offender.

That is doubtful if you don't have any prior sex offenses on your record. You're exposed to jail time if they think it's severe enough, or they can make you do some community service. They usually tailor whatever the punishment is to what you did to punish you and deter you from ever doing something like that again.

Can Some Sex Offenses Be Expunged?

Certain sex offenses can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. If that's the circumstance, they can also be deleted or dismissed from your record. There's no such thing as a true expungement in California. It's more of getting the matter dismissed. Also, there are now ways to get off the sex registration if you have to register as a sex offender.

Contact Us Today

Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

I'll privately discuss your case with you at your convenience. All consultations are free, discreet, and confidential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.