Can You be Arrested for Statutory Rape in California if You Believed the Victim Was an Adult?

If you were charged with statutory rape in California because the person you were intimate with portrayed themselves as older than they actually were, could you still be convicted? 

It has never been easier to get in touch with people you know or want to get to know. Even with restrictions and limitations on in-person gatherings, there is nothing holding people back from connecting online. Whether it be through dating services, social media apps, or other online platforms, communication between people can be done without having to actually be physically next to someone.

If you are meeting someone for the first time, or you have met them before, assuming they are a certain age is not good enough. When sex is involved, you still may be criminally charged if the person with whom you were intimate was not of legal age. When the person you had relations with showed you a fake ID or met you in a club where only those who are 21 years of age and older can frequent, you may think it is reasonable to be mistaken about their age. 

Still, in the state of California, if you have sex with an underage person, charges of statutory rape could follow. Sexual assault and sexual misconduct come with hefty penalties, can damage a person’s reputation, and can disqualify them for many opportunities in life. It is critically important that if you were arrested for a sex crime in San Diego, that you get in touch with David M. Boertje. David M. Boertje is a San Diego sexual offense attorney with significant experience as a trial lawyer. We can help fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

How Does Statutory Rape Occur?

When sexual intercourse between a person who is over the age of 18 and a person under the age of 18 but older than 14 takes place, charges of statutory rape will follow. Individuals who are 18 years of age and older are considered legal adults in the state and they have the freedom to engage in consensual sexual activities with other legal adults.

Any time a legal adult has sexual intercourse with a minor, if reported to the police, it will be considered statutory rape. Under California sexual assault laws it does not matter if:

  • The minor was 17 and consented.
  • The minor lied about their age.
  • The adult believed that the minor was also an adult.

Depending on the details of how the crime is charged, it can be a misdemeanor or a felony.

There are exceptions, though. These include:

  • When two people are married and they are underage, or if just one partner is underage, when sex occurs, it will be considered legal. In California, as long as there is parental consent of minors to marry, there are no age limits.
  • If there is a minimal age gap between sexual partners, depending on the state you live in, a Romeo and Juliet law may exist. This law was designed to shield younger, consenting individuals from criminal charges. In situations in which there are still criminal charges, this law could lessen penalties. There are no Romeo and Juliet laws in the state of California.

Speak to a Sex Crime Defense Attorney in San Diego Today

If you were arrested for statutory rape in California, the San Diego criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of David M. Boertje can help you fight your charges. Call David M. Boertje today to schedule a free initial case evaluation at (619) 229-1870 for the San Diego office or (760) 476-0901 for the Carlsbad location.

Contact Information