Obviously, the sex crime of statutory rape is very serious and could cause a person to go to jail or prison and have a criminal record that is very hard to get off and very hard to get around as you try to search for jobs. So, obviously, people are looking for defenses if they can find them when it comes to these statutory rape cases under California Penal Code 261.5.
The first premise you have to start with if you're charged with statutory rape in Los Angeles, California, is that you cannot have sex with or have any type of sexual contact with somebody who is under the age of 18.
Age of Consent
So, if you're doing that you already have a problem because it's against the law to do that. In California, the age of consent is 18 years old. Where the defenses come in is you actually knowing whether or not the person is under the age of 18. The fact that the other person consented to you having sex with them doesn't matter.
If they're underage, even if they consent or they come on to you, it doesn't matter. Even if they lie to you at some point and tell you that they're over the age of 18, but you find out later that they are under the age of 18 and you have sex with them, you're going to be guilty technically of statutory rape.
So, the question becomes, what if you don't know that the person is under the age of 18 and you have sex with them. Is mistake of age a defense? And the answer is yes. Of course, they're going to look at the facts and circumstances surrounding you having sexual contact with that person.
They're also going to look at whether or not that person looks like they're under the age of 18. If you're having sex with a 15 or 16 years old who looks like they're 15 or 16, you claiming that you thought they were 18 or older is idiotic.
You can't just say, they were on a website that was 18 or older. Younger people can go on those websites, so that's not going to be a lawful defense to a statutory rape case in one of the Los Angeles courts.
Fake ID and Lying About Age on Internet
Now, if on the other hand, a person looks like they were 18 or over and they were representing themselves as 18 or over – that's a different scenario. I had a case recently where the other person had a fake ID that that showed they were over the age of 18 and they said they were over the age of 18. They showed my client the fake ID, that's it. That's a good defense to a statutory rape case.
A lot of times what I see happening is, people come in contact with somebody on an age 18 or older website. They start talking to them.
Maybe they send pictures back and forth. Maybe they start sexting back and forth and at some point, the other party tells them when they're all excited and interested in them that they're under the age of 18 – sat that point all conversation needs to cease because now you got yourself in a bad position.
You've just been told the person under the age of 18 and if you continue to mess around with them and try to say I didn't really know for sure – that's not going to work. So, you have to cease all contact with them at that point, and now if law enforcement finds out about it, you could at least say, they were on an age 18 and older site.
They told me they were over the age of 18. I didn't see anything in the photographs or the text that would make me think that they were under the age of 18 – once I found out that they were telling me they were under the age of 18, I took no chances. I immediately ceased contact with them and didn't do anything else. I never met with them.
Now, you're probably good assuming that there's no other evidence against that. So again, when you're talking about legal defenses to statutory rape in Los Angeles, you're talking about common sense.
You're talking about the circumstances. You're talking about what evidence the prosecutors can bring to bear to prove that you knew or reasonably should have known that that other party was under the age of 18 number one; and number two, they have to prove that you had sex with them in order to get you for statutory rape.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer for Help
So, if you're in this scenario, I would suggest not talking to law enforcement. Get in front of an criminal defense attorney at the Hedding Law Firm quick. Give them all the information. Be clear, be concise and be accurate, and let them help you get this matter dealt with – do damage control and guide you through it.