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Romeo and Juliet laws focus on providing protection to teens who engage in consensual sexual activity with one another. These laws typically focus on reducing or eliminating the penalty for the older partner in a consensual teenage relationship. However, California law does not provide any special protection for teens engaging in consensual sexual activity.
At Dod Law, APC, we recognize that the law can be complicated and difficult to understand, particularly when it comes to issues involving teens and sex. We are here to help you understand the law and how it may apply to your particular situation. In this article, we will explain the basics of California’s laws regarding teen sex, including the penalties for teens engaging in consensual sexual activity.
What Is a Romeo and Juliet Law?
The term “Romeo and Juliet” has become a popular way to refer to laws that protect teens who engage in consensual sexual activity with one another. The name is based on the classic Shakespearean play in which two young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, are kept apart by their feuding families. And, similar to the play, these laws are intended to protect young people who are engaging in consensual sexual activity.
In many states that have adopted similar laws, the relationship in question must meet certain criteria in order for the law to come into play. For example, the two people must be close in age, the age difference between them must be no more than a certain number of years, the youngest partner must be of a certain age, and the sexual activity must be consensual.
However, California does not recognize any special laws for teens engaging in consensual sexual activity. In California, the age of consent is 18, and anyone under 18 is considered a minor. A minor is not legally capable of giving consent, so anyone who engages in sexual activity with a minor could be charged with statutory rape.
What Are the Penalties for Statutory Rape in California?
In California, statutory rape is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the victim’s age disparity to the defendant.
If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties for statutory rape can include:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000, plus any additional penalties
- Informal probation
If charged as a felony when the defendant is over 21 and the victim is under 16, the penalties for statutory rape can include:
- Up to one year in county jail, or two or three years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000, plus any additional penalties
- Informal probation
Depending on the circumstances and the age of the parties, civil penalties and fines can vary. For example, if the defendant is older than 21 and the victim is under 16, the maximum fine allowed for felony statutory rape is $25,000. However, if the defendant is over 18 and the age disparity with the victim is a certain number of years, the fines will be lower. It is important to note that statutory rape does not require registering as a sex offender in the state of California.
What Are the Possible Defenses of a Statutory Rape Charge?
For the most part, the charge of statutory rape is pretty clear. If the defendant had sex with a minor under the age of 18 and the couple was not married at the time, the defendant can be charged with statutory rape. However, there are some defenses available to defendants charged with statutory rape, which can include:
Mistake of Age
One defense is that the defendant honestly and reasonably believed that the minor was at least 18 years of age at the time of the sexual contact. However, this defense is rarely successful in statutory rape cases, as it is difficult to prove that the defendant had a reasonable belief that the minor was of legal age.
The Victim is Lying
Another defense is that the victim is lying about the fact that the alleged sexual contact occurred. In cases where the defendant was not caught in the act, it is possible for the defense to prove that the victim is not telling the truth. This would require legal tactics such as establishing an alibi, questioning witnesses, and examining physical evidence.
No Sexual Intercourse
Finally, if it cannot be proven that the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with the other person, then the defendant may be able to successfully argue that they did not commit statutory rape. Even if the victim and defendant engaged in other sexual acts (which could lead to other charges), without proof of sexual intercourse, the defendant may be able to evade a conviction for statutory rape.
Facing Statutory Rape Charges in California? Contact Dod Law, APC for Experienced Representation
Statutory rape is a serious crime in the state of California, and those accused of it need the help of an experienced attorney to protect their rights. From examining evidence and determining the best course of action to representing our clients in court, Dod Law, APC is committed to fighting for the rights of those facing statutory rape charges.
Our legal team with over 18 years of experience will ensure that you understand the charges you are facing and the possible consequences. With a strong strategy and aggressive representation, we will also look at any mitigating circumstances that may help you build a strong defense. If you or someone you know is facing statutory rape charges in California, contact us online or call us at (619) 814-5110 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.