In California, any sexual intercourse between an adult ages 18 and over with a minor under the age of 18 is illegal and therefore, considered statutory rape. Statutory rape is a crime regardless if the sex was consensual. It’s under the premise that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual intercourse. Although statutory rape does not require the prosecutor prove an assault, it is still considered rape. That means, a college 19 year old male who is still in a relationship and has regular sexual lintercourse with his 17 year old girlfriend, is guilty of statutory rape. So even if the sex was consensual, it is illegal and to make matters worse, a lot of innocent people are charged with it.
The penalties of statutory rape can vary and mostly depend on the ages of the defendant and victim. Depending on the age differences, the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. For misdemeanors, punishment may include probation, a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or some combination of these penalties. For felonies, punishment could be up to 4 years in prison, probation and up to $10,000 in fines. Furthermore, state law requires that anyone charged of a sex crime must register as sex offenders.
If you have been accused of statutory rape, consult a defendant because there are a couple of defenses that may be applied to you. One such exception would be a marital exception. If a minor is married to someone over 18 years, they legally give consent. The “Romeo and Juliet” exception is for minors and adults who have a 3 year age difference or less. And the last one is if the defendant honestly did not know the age of the minor.