Were You Charged with California Crime Rape Under Penal Code 261?
Sex offenses are subject to some of California’s toughest criminal penalties, and rape is among the most serious sex crimes a person can be accused of committing. Mere allegations of rape can destroy your professional reputation, damage your personal relationships, and create intense fear and anxiety. You need immediate legal assistance if you or a loved one is facing these devastating charges.
If you were charged with rape in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, you need skillful legal representation by an aggressive and knowledgeable criminal attorney who has extensive experience defending clients accused of rape under Cal. Penal Code § 261. The Ventura rape defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC have more than 22 years of experience handling felony sex crimes in California, and are deeply familiar with the legal defenses that may be used in these complex cases. Call our law offices as soon as possible at (805) 585-5056 for a free, completely confidential legal consultation.
How is Rape Defined by California Penal Code 261? What is the Prison Sentence?
There are many scenarios in which rape can be charged under Cal. Penal Code § 261, the California law which defines this offense. A person can be accused of rape if, allegedly, he or she commits “an act of sexual intercourse… with a person [who is] not the spouse of the perpetrator, under any of the following circumstances”:
- The victim cannot give consent due to a developmental disability, a physical disability, or a mental disorder, and this fact is known to the defendant. In order for the defendant to be convicted, the prosecutor needs to prove that such disorder or disability rendered the defendant legally incapable of giving consent.
- The defendant acts “against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another.”
- The victim is unable to resist due to intoxication by drugs or alcohol, and the defendant is aware, or has reason to be aware, of this fact.
- The victim is “unconscious of the nature of the act,” meaning they cannot resist due to being:
- Unaware of the act that occurred
- Unaware of the nature of the act – for example, a patient who believes they underwent a necessary medical procedure
- The defendant intentionally deceives the victim into believing the defendant’s identity is different.
- The defendant threatens to retaliate against the victim if he or she does not comply, such as threatening to kill or injure the victim.
- The defendant is a public official, such as a police officer, who abuses their power, such as threatening arrest if the victim does not comply.
Rape is a felony offense, and the penalties for rape in California are extremely serious. Depending on the circumstances under which the act occurs, a defendant who is convicted of rape in Ventura or Santa Barbara may face the following consequences:
- A prison sentence of three, six, or eight years. Three to five years may be added to the sentence if the victim is seriously injured.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Possible Defenses Against Rape Charges in Santa Barbara
Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to utilize various defense strategies in a California rape case. Some examples of legal defenses that may be possible to use against rape charges in Santa Barbara or Ventura include the following:
- You were incorrectly identified by an eyewitness to the act. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable and often produces inaccurate information, especially in cases where the lighting was dim when the sighting occurred.
- You were the victim of a false accusation. If this is the case, DNA evidence may be able to establish your innocence.
- The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The other person consented to the act, and was legally capable of giving consent.
Contact Our Ventura Rape Lawyers if You Were Arrested for Sex Crimes
Rape is an extremely serious accusation, and a conviction of rape under Cal. Penal Code § 261 can alter the course of your life forever. If you are found guilty, you could be fined thousands of dollars, be incarcerated for many years, be placed on probation, and face other devastating consequences. You will also receive a criminal record, which can place a huge obstacle into your desired career path.
Furthermore, you may be required to register as a sex offender, which will dramatically change almost every part of your daily routine. Status as a sex offender is also likely to have a profoundly negative effect on your relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners. Moreover, if you fail to comply with the requirements to which sex offenders are subject, you can receive additional criminal penalties.
The repercussions of a rape conviction in California are dire. It is imperative that you are represented by a highly accomplished Ventura sex crimes lawyer if you have been accused of this offense, or a related offense such as statutory rape. Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC immediately at (805) 585-5056 for a free and confidential consultation.