If you have been charged with a sex offense, chances are you’re going through a very stressful time and being judged by many around you, including family and those you may have previously considered friends. You may be experiencing a wide range of emotions—including frustration and anger—feeling like the system is extremely unfair if you were involved with someone very close to your own age but now you are paying the price legally, and socially.
The reality in California, however, is that the age of consent is 18 years old. You may be close to that age or just a little bit older, but anyone under 18 is not legally able to consent to sexual activity with you or anyone else, meaning that you could be charged with statutory rape and other charges too. Some states may have a ‘close-in-age’ exemption or even a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law, causing the courts to be more forgiving for relationships involving one or more partners who are underage. In California though, technically, two underage individuals engaging in consensual sexual activity could both be prosecuted for statutory rape. If you were 18 or 19, involved with someone who was 17, any sexual activity is illegal.
Such activity could result in sentencing from one year in county jail up to 15 years, or even life in prison in some cases. Keep in mind also that saying you were mistaken or lied to about the other person’s age is usually considered to be a very weak defense. If you have been charged with such a crime, the tiered system of California may be on your side as penalties are harsher when the differences in ages are greater, but if you are more than three years older than the minor involved, you could be charged with a felony.
This could be a legal situation you never saw coming, but it is a very serious one, especially because of the stigma associated with such charges. You need an aggressive attorney who will work in your best interest and protect you against allegations which may have been made against you unfairly. In many cases, allegations are exaggerated due to relationships that have ended, date rape charges, or other claims which could result in severe punishment unless you have aggressive legal assistance.
If you have been accused of or charge with a sex offense, please call the Dolan Law Offices now. We will listen carefully to your concerns, review your case, and offer advice based on many years of experience. John Patrick Dolan understands California’s complex criminal defense laws and our office will provide the experience you need to help you fight for your rights and best interests. Call us at (760) 775-3739 or contact us online as soon as possible.