Defenses to Statutory Rape Charges
If you’ve been charged with statutory rape, you’ll be facing very serious consequences. Rather than face them alone, you should retain the services of a seasoned criminal lawyer. If convicted, you’ll be facing a jail sentence. You’ll also have to register as a sex offender. Rather than risk this, call our office right away. Here, we’ll briefly discuss the defenses to statutory rape.
What is Statutory Rape?
The crime of engaging in sexual activity with a person who is below the legal consent age, either mentally or physically disabled.
All sexual activity in these circumstances is illegal under statutory rape laws, even if it is consensual. This is so that these groups of people cannot legally consent to have sex. They may consent to or even initiate sexual relations. Any sexual act they perform, however, is a non-consensual one because they are incapable of giving their consent.
Consent is Never a Defense to Statutory Rape
For some reason, a lot of our clients think that consent is a defense to statutory rape. While consent is a defense to sexual assault and rape, it doesn’t apply to this offense. In the eye of the law, a person under the age of 18 can’t give legal consent. They don’t have the ability to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
Proving that No Sexual Contact Took Place
While this defense may be harder to prove, if you can prove it, you’ll be acquitted. If you’re able to prove this to the prosecutor prior to trial, your criminal lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to drop the case. The longer your case stays on the docket, the more it can impact your life. You don’t want anybody to see your case listed on the docket and assume that you’re a rapist. The sooner you get the charges dismissed, the better off you are.
What is the ‘mistake of age’ Defense?
One of the most common affirmative defenses to statutory rape is knowledge of the victim’s age. If you didn’t know (and had no reason to know) that the victim was under 18, you may be able to get the charges dismissed. Your criminal lawyer will put forth evidence to prove that you had no idea the victim was so young. For example, if you met someone at a bar or club and they had a fake identification showing they were 22, you may have had no clue how young they were. The fact that they were in a bar would imply that they’re at least 21 since that’s the legal drinking age.
The defense of a reasonable age error against a charge of statutory rape was first acknowledged by the California Supreme Court in 1964. Some other states have adopted laws or used the common law process to recognize the defense.
A good faith belief in the age of the alleged victim is still not recognized as a defense to statutory rape charges in many other states, though. These other states’ criminal codes continue to treat statutory rape as a strict liability sexual offense. This indicates that the defendant’s intent is irrelevant. It only matters if the alleged victim was really a minor.
The Model Penal Code suggests a compromise between these two positions. For cases involving kids older than 10, it suggests allowing the mistake of age to be an affirmative defense.
Penalties for Statutory Rape are Severe
If you’ve been convicted of statutory rape, you’ll be facing jail time regardless of the degree of the offense. If you’re charged with and convicted of a Class 6 felony, you will be sentenced to at least 1 ½ years in jail. A Class 6 felony is how the courts classify statutory rape where there is no special relationship involved. If you’re charged with a Class 2 felony, you’ll be facing a minimum of 7 years in jail. As mentioned above, if the victim is someone you had a relationship of trust with, you’ll be charged with this more serious penalty. It will also be considered a Class 2 felony if the victim was under the age of 15.
Call and Talk to an Experienced Criminal Lawyer Today
If you’ve been charged with statutory rape, you’re facing some really serious consequences. You could face several years in jail. You’ll also be required to register as a sex offender. With so much at stake, you should have an experienced criminal lawyer by your side. They can work to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. They’ll review the facts of your case and see if any of the affirmative defenses apply. If not, your attorney will have to poke holes in the State’s case. Call today and set up your initial meeting with a skilled criminal attorney.