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#407 Statutory Rape

mp3 407 Statutory Rape in California (mp3 file)


Law enforcement officers investigating a crime may ask you questions without arresting you. Volunteering information can lead to your arrest. If you suspect you may be the subject of an investigation, you should IMMEDIATELY consult with a criminal attorney to avoid incriminating yourself. Continue here to be referred to an experienced and insured criminal defense attorney:


The crime of "statutory rape" is called "unlawful sexual intercourse" in California, and is found in Penal Code Section 261.5. When the victim is a person under the age of 18, and not the spouse of the perpetrator, an act of sexual intercourse is a crime, even if the minor victim willingly consents to have sexual intercourse. The perpetrator may be either male or female, and the victim may be either male or female. The perpetrator may be either over the age of 18, or under the age of 18. The penalties for this crime depend on the relative ages of the perpetrator and the victim.

The lowest penalty is up to six months in county jail, when the minor victim is not more than three years older, nor more than three years younger than the perpetrator. Examples would be a perpetrator age 17 with a victim age 15, or a perpetrator age 14 with a victim age 16.

A higher penalty of up to three years in state prison is imposed, if the minor victim is more than three years younger than the perpetrator. An example would be a perpetrator age 20, with a minor victim age 16.

The highest penalty of up to four years in state prison is imposed, if the perpetrator is over the age of 21, and the victim is under age 16. An example is a perpetrator age 22, with a minor victim age 15. If the minor victim is age 13 or younger, a different crime is usually charged, Penal Section 288, called lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14. The penalty for this crime is up to eight years in state prison.

California's first law against statutory rape was enacted in the year 1850. It prohibited sexual intercourse with girls under the age of 10. The age of consent was raised from 10 to 14 in 1889, and it was raised again in 1897 to the age of 16. In 1913, California raised the age of female consent to age 18. Age 18 is the age of consent in California at this time, for both males and females.

Beginning in 1997, district attorneys may also seek civil penalties against adults who engage in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. If the adult is less than two years older than the minor, the maximum penalty is $2,000. If the adult is at least two years older than the minor, the maximum civil penalty is $5,000. If the adult is at least three years older than the minor, the maximum civil penalty is $10,000. If the adult is over 21 years of age and the minor is under 16 years of age, the maximum penalty is $25,000.

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