Unlawful sexual activity with a minor in California is also known as “statutory rape.” In this state, the age of consent is 18, although it may be different in other states. What this means is that, unless a person is 18 years old or older, they cannot give legal consent to an act of sexual intercourse. Of course, this does not mean that the minor will not engage in what would otherwise be considered consensual sex. Unfortunately for their partner, however, this can result in a conviction of a criminal offense. If you are currently facing charges for statutory rape, you should know that this is a serious sex crime in California and that you should take steps now to defend your freedom, your reputation, and your future. San Bernardino and Riverside County statutory rape defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings is here to assist you in fighting these charges.
The State of California has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in any criminal case, including a statutory rape case. To secure a conviction, the State must be able to offer competent, legally admissible evidence of each element of the crime that the defendant is accused of committing. Failing to prove any element of the crime means that the defendant must be acquitted of that particular charge, although a conviction of a lesser-included offense is sometimes a possibility. Evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s rights under the U.S. Constitution should be excluded from the jury’s consideration during a trial. In cross-examining the State’s witnesses, moreover, a statutory rape defense attorney in Riverside or San Bernardino County may point out bias, contradictory testimony, or other issues of credibility. Ultimately, it is up to the jury to decide whom to believe if witnesses tell different accounts related to a particular factual allegation.
Statutory rape is a “wobbler” in California, meaning that it can result in either a felony conviction of more than a year in state prison or a misdemeanor with a punishment of less than a year in county jail. Fines and other penalties are also a possibility. The exact punishment depends on a multitude of factors, including the relative ages of the defendant and the alleged victim, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and the particular sexual act in which the parties allegedly engaged. At least some form of sexual penetration, even if slight, is required for a conviction of statutory rape, although a conviction of a different sexual offense against a minor is a possibility if this did not occur.
Typically, a person convicted of statutory rape is not required, as part of their punishment, to register as a sex offender – at least not currently. It is possible that this could change. Even so, the status of having been convicted of a sex crime, especially if it was punished as a felony, can cause lifelong complications and the loss of certain rights, such as owning a gun or running for public office. In some cases, voting rights may also be forfeited.
Being accused of a crime – especially a sex crime like statutory rape – can be a very unsettling experience. The uncertainty of one’s future can cause a great deal of stress and worry, not to mention the embarrassment of having an intimate matter become a subject of public speculation. Having a knowledgeable attorney by one’s side can make the process less intimidating and can help the defendant rest easier, knowing that a skilled rape defense lawyer is there to make sure that their legal rights are fully protected. Skilled San Bernardino and Riverside County statutory rape defense attorney Gregory H. Comings is here to advise you during this difficult time. For an appointment to get started on your defense, call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online today.