Rape is an extremely serious charge and considered a felony in most states. Many rape cases involve acts of force upon unwilling persons, however, rape can take other forms such as taking advantage of a person who is incapacitated, for instance when they are drunk or unconscious or have diminished mental capacity and can neither understand consent nor give it.
In California, the definition of rape is defined in California Code, Penal Code – PEN § 261(a) as an individual engaging in sexual intercourse with another person against that person’s will or where no consent is given. Certain conditions must have occurred to define an act rape and include such things as:
Force with violence: the act of physical violence to perform a sexual act upon a person
Menace: a threat to inflict injury in non-compliance
Fear of Harm: a reasonable belief that non-compliance will result in injury or death
Intoxication: state of being unconscious or not cognitively aware enough to give consent
Duress: direct or implied threat in coercing an agreement to sexual intercourse
Fraud: convincing a person they are married or a sexual act serves some professoanl service though neither is true
No Consent: a person has not given consent or is not able to give consent such as in states of intoxication or impaired mental capacity
Fear of retaliation: the threat to kidnap, imprison or inflict injury or death upon the person for not complying
If you have sexual intercourse with another person in any of these circumstances you can be found guilty of rape under the California Penal Code 261 PC. California recognizes that spousal rape is not only possible but prosecutable under both the California rape statues as well as California domestic law.
If you are found guilty of spousal rape, you may also be required to register as a sex offender in some instances and may also affect the ability to be awarded custody of children in the event of a divorce. The elements of spousal rape are the same as those of non-spousal rape.
In recent years, many cases have been spotlighted where people have been imprisoned falsely for acts of rape and have spent 20 or even 30 years behind bars for that crime which they never committed. People are falsely accused of rape all the time and cases where the accuser is not sure if what they experienced is really rape but it is reported as rape and the accused must stand trial for rape.
In order to prove a person has committed rape, the prosecution needs to prove the following elements in the case:
that you engaged in sexual intercourse with another person and penetration has occurred no matter how slight
that you were not married to the person at the time in cases of non-spousal rape
that the other person did not consent to the act of intercourse
that you perpetrated an act of sexual intercourse by one of the means listed under the definition of rape
The four elements a prosecutor must show existed is not the only thing they must prove. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant reasonably believed that the alleged victim consented. If they cannot prove this in a court of law, they cannot make a conviction for rape against the defendant.
No physical resistance from the alleged victim needs to be proven as each individual has been shown to react differently to traumatic situations and some people do not show significant signs of physical resistance but may instead “freeze” or “scream” without physical resistance given.
It is a common misconception that only men rape. A woman can both force or threaten men into sexual intercourse and California treats them equally within the law. She could also be charged with helping a man rape another woman. She can be found guilty of aiding and abetting forcible rape and would then be considered a principal actor in the crime, punished equally as if she has committed the act herself.
Rape is a severe crime punishable by a sentence of up to $10,000 in fines and up to 13 years in a California State prison if the victim is a minor. If you have been charged with the crime of rape in Los Angeles, you need a criminal defense attorney to advise and represent you. The penalties are too severe to walk into a courtroom accused of rape and hope for the best.
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