What is Statutory Rape?

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In California, it is illegal to have sexual intercourse with an individual under 18 years of age who is not your spouse.

This crime, which is called statutory rape, is discussed in further detail below.

Misdemeanor and Felony Statutory Rape

In California, statutory rape can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When determining whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges, one factor that prosecutors examine is the age difference between the suspect and the alleged victim. If the suspect and alleged victim are within three years of age, then the crime will typically be charged as a misdemeanor.  

However, if there is more than a three-year age difference between the suspect and the alleged victim, then the crime may be charged as a felony.

Penalties for Statutory Rape in California

Misdemeanor statutory rape is punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For incidents involving minors 16 years of age and older and suspects under the age of 21,  the resulting felony statutory rape charge can result in up to three years in jail.

And for incidents involving minors under 16 years of age and suspects over the age of 21, the potential penalties include up to four years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

What if it’s Consensual?

Ordinarily, people think of rape as a non-consensual act of force. Statutory rape, however, isn’t always done against the will of the victim. Rather, statutory rape can occur even when both individuals consent to the act.

The deciding factor in statutory rape cases is that one or both of the participants are under the age of 18. Therefore, it is a criminal act in California at any time two unmarried persons under the age of 18 have sexual intercourse.

Sex Offender Registration

In addition, anyone convicted of either misdemeanor or felony statutory rape may be required to register as a sex offender for life.

When making this determination, the judge must consider whether the offender committed the crime due to sexual compulsion or gratification.

If the judge determines that registration as a sex offender is necessary, then the offender could potentially face the following negative consequences:

  • Difficulty finding long-term employment
  • Difficult maintaining long-term employment
  • The stigma of being a registered sex offender
  • Difficulty sustaining relationships
  • Isolation from friends and family

Examples of California Statutory Rape

  • A victim is under 18 years old when the crime was committed
  • A 30-year-old teacher develops a relationship “sexually” with a 16-year-old
  • A minor, under the age of 18 can also be charged with statutory rape but
    would eventually be tried in the juvenile court system of California

Speak to an Attorney at The Law Office of Kerry Armstrong, APLC

Due to the potential consequences involved, it is important that anyone charged with statutory rape in San Diego seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, our experienced sex crime defense attorneys provide all of our clients with expert legal guidance in order to achieve the most favorable results possible.

The talent and experience of our attorneys ensure that our clients’ cases are handled expertly and with the utmost care.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges of any kind in San Diego, please contact us immediately for a free consultation.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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