Rape

Any charge for engaging in a criminal act in California has severe ramifications, but the punishment for sex crimes is more severe. One of the sex crimes that carry severe consequences is rape. Under California rape statutes, it is illegal to engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse with another person. The offense is a felony and carries severe consequences, including incarceration, fines, and registration as a sex offender. The punishment shows that rape accusations are serious issues that need the intervention of a profound criminal attorney.

Just because the charges against you carry severe punishments upon conviction doesn’t mean you are guilty. You can contest the charges with an experienced attorney and face lesser penalties or have the case dismissed. At Darwish Law, we defend persons accused of rape in Santa Ana, CA. We have the resources and staff to examine all rape exam evidence, your relationship with the accuser, and their motive to prove your innocence.

General View of California Rape Laws

Rape falls under the classification or category of sexual assault, which consists of many sex crimes, some of which are lesser offenses like groping and unwanted sexual contact. Although under PC 261 (the statute that defines rape), there is no clear definition of sexual intercourse, the law does identify acts that amount to rape.

As per PC 261, if you engage in sexual intercourse with another person, the crime of rape may occur if the situation meets the following criteria:

  • You made use of physical force, duress, threats, or intimidation.
  • The alleged victim reacted out of fear of bodily harm or suspicion that another person would suffer injury.
  • The alleged victim could not consent to the relationship because of intoxication, disability, mental disorder, or developmental delay.
  • The alleged victim was unaware of the act because they were sedated, unconscious, or unaware of the sexual intercourse.
  • As the defendant, you engaged in rape by deception, where you induced sexual penetration through fraudulent representation.
  • You accomplished the act of sexual intercourse against the alleged victim by threatening to retaliate against the victim or someone else at a future date. The victim reasonably believed you would act on the threats.
  • You perpetrated the act by threatening to use your authority as a public official to arrest, detain, or deport the person. The victim reasonably believed that you are a public official.

Types of Rape in California

There are several types of rape you could be charged with in Santa Ana, CA, as outlined under California PC 261. These forms of rape crimes include:

1. Marital or Spousal Rape

Spousal rape occurs between two couples when one of them doesn’t consent to sexual intercourse. The accuser sues the defendant for forcing sexual relations against their will. The offense is a serious one because it’s a felony and can result in additional charges like domestic violence and battery.

2. Statutory Rape

Statutory rape, also known as sexual rape of a minor, occurs when an adult engages in sexual penetration or relations with a child 18 years or younger. Like other types of sexual assault, the offense is punishable by severe penalties. It’s worth noting that you will be subject to these penalties whether the minor had consented to sexual relations or not. Besides, you could be subject to accusations of engaging in a lewd act with a minor.

The severity of the consequences for statutory rape depends on the age difference between the adult and the minor. The act is deemed a crime even when sexual intercourse was consensual because the government presumes children not give legal consent.

Therefore, the prosecutor doesn’t need to demonstrate that the defendant engaged in sexual relations utilizing threats, intimidation, force, or illegal acts deemed rape between adults. If the victim is a minor, the act of sexual penetration is considered non-consensual.

3. Foreign Object Rape

Foreign object rape, also called forcible sexual penetration, is sexual penetration with someone else. This penetration of the vagina or anus is achieved utilizing a foreign object like a bottle, sex toy, finger, or stick. The crime is accomplished without consent by using threats, menace, threat to retaliate, or fear of bodily harm.

4. Acquaintance Rape 

Acquaintance rape, also called date rape, occurs when two people in a relationship or spending quality time together engage in sexual intercourse without at least one person’s consent. Cases of boyfriends, girlfriends, or friends being raped are common in cases of involuntary intoxication. Most defendants use GHB or Rohypnol to render the victim unable to consent to the act of sexual intercourse. Remember that even if the victim didn’t resist, you could still face rape charges.

5. Oral Copulation by Force or Fear

If oral copulation occurs through force, fear, menace, duress, or when the victim is unable to consent because of unconsciousness or intoxication, California statutes consider it rape.

6. Fraud Rape

Fraud rape occurs when the accused impersonates another to engage in sexual intercourse with the victim. The most common fraud rape in Santa Ana is where the accused pretends to be a film director to convince the victim to engage in sexual relations.

Note that any form of penetration, whether light or deep through the genitals, i.e., the vagina, anus, or penis, is deemed a sexual act. The act doesn’t require ejaculation to materialize. Further, the victim doesn’t need to resist rape by fighting physically.

Elements the Prosecutor Must Prove in Rape Charges

For you to end up with a conviction for rape, the prosecutor must prove particular elements of this crime beyond reasonable certainty. The components of the offense include:

  • You and the victim engaged in the act of sexual intercourse.
  • You and the accuser were not married at the time of the sexual relations.
  • The victim had not consented to the sexual intercourse.
  • You accomplished or induced the act utilizing force, threats, duress, fraud, or retribution.

Keep in mind that the accuser must live after the act of rape for you to end up with a sentence.

Discussed below is the meaning of some of the terms that you will help you understand the elements mentioned above.

Force, Violence, Duress, Menace, etc.

PC 261 clearly states that rape must be induced or accomplished in a particular manner for you as the accused to end up with a conviction. The acts outlined under this Penal Code include:

  • Force – This means utilizing physical force that overpowers the accuser’s will.
  • Violence – It means conduct that is intended to hurt or kill
  • Retribution – This refers to a type of payback or retaliation
  • Fraud – Fraud refers to deceit or trickery to influence the victim to engage in sexual intercourse.
  • Menace – This means any act, statement, or threat that shows the defendant plans to harm the victim.
  • Fear – It requires the accuser to actually and reasonably be terrified

Sexual Intercourse

For purposes of PC 261, sexual intercourse is defined as a penetrative act of the genitals, whether light or deep, that is penetrative. Remember that even sexual penetration with a foreign object satisfies this requirement. Besides, ejaculation is not a requirement for you to be deemed to have engaged in sexual intercourse.

Definition of Consent as per PC 261

Consent is outlined as cooperation in attitude or action out of one’s free will. So, if the accuser acted freely, voluntarily, or was aware of the act's nature, then it means the act of sexual intercourse was consensual.

Remember that if the accuser consents to the act of sexual relations but later changes mind, you could still be subject to rape charges if the victim communicated the change of mind or objection about sexual intercourse using words or action. The communication or complaint to the act must be in a fashion that the defendant reasonably understands the objection to the act, and forcibly goes ahead with the act of sexual intercourse.

Similarly, it’s not mandatory that the victim physically resists or fights back to demonstrate objection or lack of consent. The victim doesn’t need to provide proof they resisted rape.

Note that if there is no evidence to prove you accomplished the act of sexual intercourse using fear or threats, the prosecuting team could still earn a conviction if they confirm the victim didn’t consent or wasn’t in a position to consent to the act. The law is clear that particular persons cannot consent to sexual intercourse. These persons include:

  • Persons too intoxicated to consent
  • Persons with a mental, physical, or developmental disability
  • An unconscious individual

Looking at the above elements of the crime, the burden of proof is massive, and there is a need for concrete evidence against you to end up with a conviction. However, you need to understand that the prosecutor can rely on the accuser’s testimony alone to convict you of rape. It means the case might turn out to be allegations only, where it is the alleged victim’s words against yours. If the jury believes the victim's testimony beyond reasonable certainty, you will be guilty of a PC 261 violation.

Further, no other witness testimony is necessary to support the victim’s allegations. According to the law, the testimony or statement of a single witness, if reasonably believed by the jury, is sufficient to show facts. Thus many innocent people end up behind bars because of rape, whereas they are innocent. You should avoid this by having an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately learn about the rape charges in your corner.

Possible Penalties for California Rape

Potential penalties for rape depend on the type of rape you are accused of committing and often ranges from three to eight years. If you engaged in non-consensual sexual intercourse with a minor, the punishment upon conviction depends on the age gap between you and the victim. If the accuser is a child 14 years or older, you may be subject to a sentence of between seven to eleven years. If the victim is 14 years or younger, the sentence ranges from nine to thirteen years. The penalty would be severer if you acted in concert with someone else to rape the victim.

Besides, the court might impose hefty fines ranging from $2,000 to $25,000 as civil penalties when an adult is found guilty of raping a minor.

Suppose you have been charged with spousal rape. In that case, the penalties will be stricter because you could face additional domestic violence charges if the victim of rape suffers bodily harm like bruising or fractured bones. The sentence could be extended by five years.

A conviction could also add a strike on your record as per California Three Strikes Law. If you already have a strike on your record, a second one means that your sentence for rape will double. If you already have two strikes, a third one means you could be subject to 25 years to life imprisonment.

Another punishment for PC 261 conviction is registration as a sex offender for the period you work or study in California. If you are convicted of rape and fail to register as a sex offender, you will be subject to additional and separate charges of PC 290 violation. PC 290 violation is a felony, punishable by no more than 36 months in prison.

Note that you cannot get the sentence reduced to less than 85 percent after conviction because of the crime’s serious and violent nature.

Determination After Conviction of Sentence by the Court

If you end up with a conviction for rape as per California statutes, there is no possibility of being released on probation. The court can only impose the lowest sentence of three years, the medium one of six years, or the highest sentence of eight years.

When deciding the sentence, the court will consider aggravating factors. These factors include:

  • Involvement of bodily harm or great violence in the non-consensual sexual intercourse
  • Existence of threat of GBI
  • Establishes hate crime
  • Acts revealing intents of inhumanity or cruelty
  • Utilizing a weapon or firearm during the commission of the crime
  • Induced a minor in the commission of the crime
  • Induced other persons to engage in the commission of the crime.
  • Threatened witnesses
  • Interfered with the court process
  • Advise against witnesses testifying
  • You were on parole when the crime was committed.
  • You have prior convictions.

On the other hand, your defense attorney could present mitigating circumstances to convince the judge to lower the sentence. Some of the mitigating factors include:

  • You were a passive participant or played a minor function in the commission of the crime.
  • You engaged in the rape through coercion or duress.
  • You were included by others but had no intention of taking part in the crime.
  • You reasonably believed the act was lawful.
  • You were motivated by the necessity to provide for yourself or your family.
  • You suffered sustained and continuous physical, sexual, or psychological abuse in the hands of the alleged accuser.
  • No harm was done or threatened against the accuser.

The court determines mitigating factors depending on whether the accuser was the initiator of, willing participant in, or the alleged crime provoker.

Common Defenses Against Rape

It’s advisable to have an experienced attorney by your side to ensure your rights are protected, considering the above consequences of a rape conviction. If you are facing rape charges, the first thing your attorney will advise is to remain silent. Trying to clear your name by talking to the police or investigators might end up hurting your case because it’s usually your statement against that of the victim.

Your defense attorney could also request a lie detector test to determine if the victim is telling the truth. Besides, you could demonstrate that engaging in sexual intercourse didn’t violate their will because the person had consented to the act.

When the witness to the crime is a child, the attorney can assert the child is susceptible to parents, guardians, or other person’s suggestions, making their testimony unreliable.

If there was a violation of your rights during the gathering of evidence, you could petition the court to suppress the evidence. The court will reject any contaminated or compromised proof, meaning the defense will be left with a weak case, which will eventually result in dismissal or reduced charges.

Establishing the Accuser’s Motivation

As part of building a strong defense, your attorney must establish the motivation or the reason the accuser is making allegations of rape. They demonstrate the accuser’s motives to attempt and cast doubt in the juror’s minds regarding the victim’s testimony.

Most sexual assault cases are based on the word of the accuser against yours. Therefore, if your attorney can show the court the accuser might have had other motives like revenge, it can be concluded the accuser is lying about the non-consensual sexual intercourse. Therefore, the case is based on false allegations.

Find the Right Sex Crimes Attorney Near Me

The worst or most devastating thing that can happen to a person is face rape charges. If the case is based on California rape laws, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to avoid the devastating consequences.

At Darwish Law, we have years of experience defending persons facing rape accusations in Santa Ana, CA. If you face rape allegations, reach out to us at 714-887-4810 to discuss your case. Our attorneys will evaluate the evidence against you and try our best to get the case dismissed or penalties reduced because of the victim’s insufficient evidence or failure to effectively communicate their objection to sexual intercourse.