Our firm has extensive experience handling a wide range of criminal defense cases
throughout Orange County, Los Angeles and all of California.
If you are under investigation or are facing statutory rape charges, your future, reputation, and freedom are on the line. Consult Orange County sex crime defense attorney Jennifer Le to find out how to protect your rights in the face of these serious criminal charges.
Statutory rape is one of the most misunderstood and confusing criminal charges in the area of sex crimes. Under California law, it is called Unlawful Sexual Intercourse. It is illegal for any person to have consensual sex with any person who is under the age of 18. The applicable statute in California is penal code section 261.5. It is important to understand that as the disparity in age between the alleged victim and the defendant increases, so does the potential punishment the defendant faces in court. If the age difference is not more than three years, the crime is a misdemeanor. If the age difference is more than three years, the crime is a wobbler, which means that it could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
California is one of the few states in the country that does recognize that an actual and reasonable belief by the defendant that the alleged victim was 18 or older is an affirmative defense to the crime of unlawful sex with a minor. Many states don’t recognize this defense and that is why this crime has become commonly known as “statutory rape”. However, because California does recognize this affirmative defense to this crime, it is essential that you contact a qualified defense attorney immediately to prepare the most effective defense strategy.
If the victim is under 16 years of age, or under 14, then other more serious criminal charges such as child molestation may be applicable. In those circumstances, a reasonable belief in the mistake of the age of the victim is not an available defense and the penalties are much greater.
As an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a background as a former prosecutor, Jennifer Le understands how to approach a statutory rape case and offer his client the best legal defense possible. In these situations, an independent investigation by a skilled lawyer may reveal information, witness testimony or evidence which will work in the defendant’s favor.
Without aggressive defense by a skilled lawyer, a defendant may face the following penalties for a statutory rape charge in California:
Orange County statutory rape lawyer Jennifer Le has the skills, resources and experience to conduct a thorough investigation into the charges that his clients face, in order to provide a tailor-made defense plan, which may result in the dismissal of all charges.