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San Diego STATUTORY RAPE DEFENSE LAWYER

UNDERSTANDING STATUTORY RAPE

There is never an instance where someone wishes to become better acquainted with the legal issues surrounding the question of rape. Just mentioning the term invokes a knee-jerk negative reaction in almost every member of society, and the media widely covers social issues like consent and rape culture. Still, there are nuances in the law that are important to understanding, especially when it comes to statutory rape. While statutory rape cases don’t usually make it to court, uncovering the laws surrounding this issue is essential for anyone who has a relationship with or custody over a minor.

WHAT IS STATUTORY RAPE?

When it comes to rape, the legal definitions are quite clear. Any time there is a sexual interaction that involves penetration without first obtaining clear consent from the victim, a forcible rape has occurred. Victims can be either females or males, and there doesn’t need to be a struggle to prove rape. In addition, having sex with a someone who is not able to provide consent due to physical or mental impairment is defined as forcible rape.

Statutory rape is less clear-cut, and rape can be prosecuted even if both parties were willing participants in the act. Statutory rape works from the premise that minors are unable to adequately understand the ramifications of engaging in sexual activity and can be easily coerced by a partner. Statutory rape occurs any time an adult engages in sexual relations with a minor or, in some cases, another adult who has a mental impairment rendering them incapable of consent. Some states exclude couples with minimal age gaps or who started their physical relationship when they were both under the age of 18.

WHAT EVIDENCE WILL NEED TO BE PRESENTED?

In some cases, obtaining a statutory rape conviction is as simple as submitting a believable testimony of a victim. If there is physical evidence, however, such as DNA samples or pregnancy, the case is stronger and easier to prosecute. Occasionally, when there is police evidence of an adult confessing to relations with a minor, that is admissible in court if properly obtained. Statutory rape is usually a misdemeanor offense with no requirements that perpetrators register as sex offenders, especially when there is no evidence of coercion. Still, it’s important to realize that a motivated prosecutor can present a convincing case even when the defendant didn’t recognize that they broke any laws.

HOW DO STATUTORY RAPE LAWSUITS WORK?

The minor does not have to consider themselves a victim for prosecutors to pursue a statutory rape case. In some cases, parents of an underage child request prosecution, but it is ultimately up to the local district attorney to determine if the situation warrants legal intervention. In California, there are usually specific parameters used to make this call. In most statutory rape cases, at least a five year age difference is present between the victim and perpetrator, and factors such as drug and alcohol use, mental incapacity or intimate partner violence are evident. The law also gives greater weight to any situation where the adult holds a position of authority over the minor, such as a pastor or teacher.

WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO A STATUTORY RAPE CASE?

Most partners who protest a statutory rape charge use the age of the two participants and the presence of clear consent as their defense. If there are less than three years between the couple in question, it is still possible to report the interaction as a crime. However, an arrest or charges are unlikely, and the district attorney will generally not pursue the matter unless there are mitigating factors.

HOW CAN A San Diego Sex Crime LAWYER HELP ME?

In many cases, working with a criminal defense attorney can make the difference between being convicted of statutory rape or having your case dropped. Even if the court can prove that there was a relationship, they will not pursue most cases involving sexual encounters with a minor unless the details are egregious or involve repeat offenses, and an attorney will provide advice based on their knowledge of comparable cases. If your case does go to court, a criminal defense lawyer will work hard for an acquittal or a reduction in charges, often using what are known as Romeo and Juliet laws to reduce a sentence to only probation. They can also work out a plea bargain with prosecutors if it looks like a conviction is likely.

PERSONAL INJURY COMPENSATION

Whenever a trial involves a question of rape, the case goes through a two-part process. First, the prosecution must prove, through a criminal court of law, that rape occurred. A judge will then decide on a suitable sentence for the conviction. Upon a ruling of rape, the case moves to a civil court, where the victim can sue for compensation from the offender as well as other parties whose negligence may have contributed to the crime. Because many cases of statutory rape are ruled as misdemeanors, and sexual relations are consensual, it is rare for victims to receive personal injury compensation for this charge. However, there are always exceptions, and extreme cases sometimes earn the victim a personal injury award, most often when a child was clearly coerced or pressured to consent to sex by someone much older and subsequently needs counseling to process the event.

FACTORS AFFECTING DAMAGES

Having a child from an incidence of statutory rape is the single most common factor impacting whether a victim receives a monetary award for damages from the encounter. If there is a baby involved, he or she is entitled to support from the father even if there are no other extenuating circumstances. Statutory rapes that result in emotional distress where the victims require counseling might warrant damages intended to pay for the victim’s mental health care. Also, if the court finds that an individual or organization should have protected a victim, and they failed to do so, that entity may also be liable to pay compensation for pain, suffering, and treatment.

Rape is one of the most alarming crimes you can be charged with, and convictions can impact your future for a long time. While it is a good idea to have a defense lawyer when dealing with this type of accusation, keep in mind that statutory rape isn’t treated the same as forcible rape, and the potential consequences are much lower. Unless a prosecutor feels that an instance of statutory rape is extreme, most cases are dropped after an initial investigation. Still, knowing what the law is and what your options are will provide you with the best possible outcome.

HOW The Law Office of George Gedulin CAN HELP

The San Diego criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of George Gedulin are among the most trusted and experienced in San Diego County. Contact us today for your free consultation. With over 40 years of experience, our attorneys are trained to handle difficult situations carefully and with the utmost care. Call (858) 281-4605.

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