Charged With Rape In California?

[playht_listen_button]There are a range of sexual assault crimes under California law, but the crime of rape is the most serious. Rape is when an aggressor has sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. Under California law, rape is more particularly defined as:
  • An act of sexual intercourse with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, where
  • The victim does not give consent or is unable to give legal consent, and
  • The assault is done against the person’s will by force, violence, or threat.

While this law requires that the rape be targeted against someone who is not the spouse of the accused, there is a separate California law that prohibits spousal rape within a marriage. It imposes the same penalties as the basic rape laws.

One crucial part of the sexual assault crimes is the intent of the aggressor—whether the person intended to make the offensive contact. If the touching is accidental, say in a crowded bus, and not meant to stimulate the alleged attacker with sexual arousal, then it might not be a crime at all. This determination is very fact-specific.


Sexual intercourse without consent is rape. There are many ways that a rape victim can be unable to consent or incapable of consenting to the sexual actions. A person who is sleeping, unconscious, intoxicated, or drugged is unable to give consent. Certain individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities may be considered incapable of consenting. Minors under the age of 18 are considered unable to consent, as a general rule.

Consent can be revoked during the course of sexual activity. A person continuing with sexual intercourse when the other person has clearly indicated a desire to stop the sexual activity can be charged with rape.

Related Charges

There are a variety of other crimes that relate to sexual assault that fall short of the crime of rape because they don’t involve penetration of the sexual organs. Sexual battery is a separate crime that involves touching of the intimate body parts of another person without their consent for the specific purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the attacker. These body parts could include the sexual organs, groin, anus, or buttocks, or women’s breasts. The crime of sexual battery can involve unwanted groping, touching, kissing, rubbing, or even forcing the victim to touch the aggressor in a sexual manner.

Penalties And Punishments


The crime of rape is a felony with a sentence of up to eight years in prison. An additional three to five years may be added to the prison term if the victim had a serious bodily injury as a result of the attack, or if the crime is one of the defendant’s “three strikes” under California law that makes repeat offenders subject to harsher penalties. In addition to prison time, the convicted rapist is required to register as a sex offender for life and to follow the strict restrictions that the law imposes on registered sex offenders.

Statutory Rape (Rape Of A Minor)

In cases where the rape victim is under the age of 18, the prison sentence can be up to 11 years. If the victim is less than 14 years old, the term increases to 13 years in prison.

Sexual Assault Or Battery

Sexual battery or sexual assault can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. A misdemeanor sexual assault or battery case may involve intentionally groping someone’s buttocks without consent, or fondling a woman’s breasts aggressively. It cannot involve restraining the victim. Such a crime can be punished by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

Felony sexual battery involves restraining the victim, such as pinning someone down while removing their clothing. Another example may be a medical professional fooling a victim into believing that some sexual contact was needed for a legitimate examination. A conviction of felony sexual assault can result in up to four years in prison, plus fines of up to $10,000.


There are defenses to rape charges, just as with any crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney is essential if you are facing sexual assault charges. Some of the key potential defenses revolve around consent and the lack of evidence against the accused. Rape is a charge that can be brought improperly with a motive to harm the accused. However, it is up to the prosecutor to prove all of the elements of the crime to the judge or jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, to get a conviction for the crime.

California Rape Attorneys

The attorneys at My Rights Law have extensive experience protecting the rights of the accused in sex offense cases including rape. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend you in your criminal case. If you have been charged with rape or another sex offense in California, call (888) 702-8882 or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.