As a college student, you have a lot on your mind. You are likely juggling many classes, and you may be working a part-time or even a full-time job. As you work to navigate the difficult world of dating, you do not necessarily have the level of experience that older folks do. This is why we see many college students accused of sex crimes – including statutory rape.
This is a serious charge that could result in jail time and the lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. Keep reading to learn more about what the statutory rape laws are in California and contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 to speak with an experienced attorney.
Statutory Rape May Have Been Consensual
One of the most important things to understand about this crime is that it can have been a consensual sexual experience. The whole focus of this particular charge is how old the alleged victim was – not whether or not they agreed to the act.
The Age of Consent in California is 18
While the age of consent varies between different states, the State of California considers a person to be an adult when they turn 18. A person who is not yet 18 is considered incapable of the emotional or psychological development to consent to sex. Note that in some states, a person is an adult at 16, which means that if an 18-year-old college Freshman has sex with a 16-year-old junior in high school, it would be entirely legal in some states, but a felony in others.
Statutory Rape Charges May Be Misdemeanors or Felonies
There are two factors that will affect if the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony: The facts of the case and the decision the prosecution makes. In cases in which the defendant is three years or less younger than the alleged victim, this can be charged as a misdemeanor. If the defendant is more than three years older than the victim, then it will be charged as a felony.
The charge can also be a felony if the victim is younger than 16 years, even if the defendant is not three or more years older.
Potential Penalties for a Statutory Rape Conviction
Depending on how it is charged, this crime can result in probation or up to four years in jail if charged as a felony. Fines can range from $1,000 on felony charges to $10,000 on felony charges. The sentence could be the maximum allowed punishment or a combination of lesser punishments. If you are convicted or plead guilty, your attorney can fight for the most lenient possible penalty.
At Law Office of Michael L. Fell, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible if you are charged with this or another college crime. You can reach us at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.