Rape allegations are very serious. Not only could you face up to 13 years in prison for a rape conviction, but you could also face lifetime registration as a tier three sex offender.

In fact, even being accused of rape is damaging. 

Rape carries a serious stigma, and it can permanently damage your reputation. You can lose relationships and professional opportunities — all before your case even reaches a courtroom. 

If you or someone you love has been accused of rape, you need an advocate. A criminal defense attorney who specializes in rape cases can bring some peace of mind in this anxious time and help you fight back.

Definition of rape in California

ventura sex crimes attorneyCalifornia Penal Code 261 PC defines rape as non-consensual sexual intercourse accomplished by means of:

  • Force, threats or fraud
  • A victim who is unconscious or incapable of consenting

If your case reaches a courtroom, the prosecutor will have to show that a certain number of facts of the case were true in order to convict you. These are known as the “elements of the crime.” 

Prosecutors in rape cases have to prove four elements:

  1. The defendant had sex with the accuser. The law says that any amount of penetration is considered sex, no matter how slight.
  2. The accuser did not consent to the sex.
  3. The people involved were not married to each other at the time. If they were, this could be a separate crime called “spousal rape.”
  4. This was accomplished through “threats, force or fraud,” or the victim was otherwise unconscious or incapable to consent.

In California, it is not necessary to show that the accuser physically resisted the encounter.

As well, it’s possible for a person to “withdraw consent” after sexual intercourse has already begun. In other words, they can initially consent to the encounter but then communicate to their partner that they no longer consent. At that point, the partner must also stop.

Penalties for rape in California

Rape is always prosecuted as a felony in California. It’s punishable by:

  • Three, six or eight years in California state prison
  • Up to 13 years in prison if the victim is a minor
  • Fines of up to $10,000

As well, a rape case will add a strike to your record, pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law.

You’ll also be required to keep your information current on the California Sex Offender Registry as a tier three sex offender for the rest of your life. You must re-register every year and every time you move.

Appearing on the sex offender registry can cause a number of issues in your personal life, from difficulty finding jobs to restrictions on where you can live.

Defenses against rape charges

“Robert Helfend is one of the best criminal defense attorneys I’ve ever worked with. He was so knowledgeable, and always made sure I understood everything every step of the way. I would definitely recommend him to anyone who wants an understanding, caring, and truly helpful lawyer.”
Pat, CA

We live in the era of #metoo and reckless accusations of sexual misconduct. While rape allegations might have turned your life upside down, working with a defense attorney can help make things right.

Rape cases often have very little hard evidence, so they can devolve into cases of “he said, she said.” One person’s word against another’s.

When that happens, a skilled defense attorney can bring evidence to light to prove that it was all a case of mistaken identity or false accusations. Or, it could be that there simply was not enough evidence to prove that all four “elements of the crime” were true.

Robert M. Helfend is a SuperLawyers and National Trial Lawyers Top 100 rated attorney who specializes in sex crimes cases. He has served the Ventura area since 1984. Call today for your free case evaluation — 805-273-5611.