Defense Against Rape Charges

Rape Charges in California

California is ranked number one in the United States for the most rape acts annually. In 2010, there were 8,331 forcible rapes. Due to the harm that rape inflicts and the reality that this crime is prevalent in California- few crimes are prosecuted more harshly. All of the aspects concerning rape charges are discussed in the following sections:

  • California Penal Code 290 PC- registration as a sex offender
  • California Penal Code 243.4 PC- sexual battery
  • California Penal Code 266c PC- oral copulation by force
  • California Penal Code 261.5 PC- statutory rape
  • California Penal Code 288- lewd or lascivious acts with a child

Rape has been defined as an act of sexual intercourse that involves threats, force or fraud. More specifically, rape is-

  • Where a person is incapable of giving consent
  • Where an act is accompanied with force, violence, duress, menace or fear
  • Where a person or intoxicated or on an anesthetic substance, and therefore cannot resist
  • Where a person is unconscious
  • Where a person is "not aware, knowing, perceiving or cognizant of the act"
  • Where the act is accomplished by threatening retaliation- kidnapping, false imprisonment, inflicting extreme pain, bodily injury or death

A prosecutor proves that a rape occurred by showing that you engaged in sexual intercourse, that you were not married to the plaintiff, that the act was against the will of the victim and that you carried out the act using threats, force or fraud.

Statutory Rape & the Age of Consent

In California, the legal age of consent is 18. This means that any sexual contact with a minor under the age of 18 is illegal- even if the minor says it was consensual. In the words of Sexlaws.org, "Recognizing the high incidence of teenagers impregnated by adult males and the negative impact of these young, fatherless families on society, California initiated the Statutory Rape Vertical Prosecution Program in 1995. The program strengthened law enforcement's ability to prosecute adult men who have sex with teenage girls- minors, under the law." Statutory rape receives a lot of attention in California, due to the following statistics:

  • Every 8 minutes, a teenager in California has a baby
  • 3 out of 4 births to high school girls are fathered by adults
  • Men over 25 account for twice as many teen births as boys under 18 years old

Penalties & the One Strike Rape Law

In the 1990s, California signed into law a bill that required life in prison for first-time violent sex offenders. While lesser sex crimes can earn a sentence of 15 years to life, cases involving "brutal sexual assault"—such as torture, mayhem, kidnapping or burglary— can earn a sentence of 25 years to life. For a lesser sex crime to warrant a life sentence, typically "aggravating factors" such as use of a weapon, more than one victim, and administering of narcotics would have to be present.

A single rape incident is punishable by eight years in prison, however many defendants are able to be released in less than five years. What makes the One Strike Rape Law so severe? In the words of the Seattle Times,

"Currently [before the bill was passed], a knife-wielding rapist typically ends up serving 6 ½ years with good behavior. The same perpetrator sentenced under the one-strike formula would spend nearly 13 years behind bars, and then be freed only by a decision of a parole board. Those sentenced to a maximum term of 25 years to life wouldn't be eligible for parole for more than 21 years."

Possible defenses for individuals accused of rape can include: false accusations, consent, insufficient evidence and mistaken identity. If you are facing rape charges, you should contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today. Our firm specializes in a wide range of sex crime cases and can provide you with the aggressive legal representation you are looking for!