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What is the Statute of Limitations for Statutory Rape in California?

For most crimes in California, the prosecutor must file a complaint against a defendant within a specified amount of time. This period, prescribed by the California Penal Code, is known as the “Statute of Limitations.” In order to be criminally prosecuted, the prosecutor must ensure that a complaint is filed against your for the criminal activity before this statutory period elapses. If the statutory period lapses, you cannot be convicted for that activity. As a general rule, the more serious your violation is, the longer the statute of limitations.

Statutory Rape is a Serious Offense in California

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Under California Penal Code section 261.5, it is illegal for an adult (18 years or older) to have sex with a minor (younger than 18 years old). This crime is known as unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor or “Statutory Rape.” Under PC 261.5, it is irrelevant whether the sex was consensual because the law states that minors are not capable of giving informed consent to sexual activity.

Because we now live in a world where sexual activity among teenagers is commonplace, statutory rape occurs with great frequency, and it often goes unreported or even unnoticed. Where someone is prosecuted for statutory rape, the situation is often very emotional. Feelings of anger or jealousy among young adults or teenagers often lead to false accusations, wrongful arrests and innocent people being prosecuted.

How Long is the Statute of Limitations for Statutory Rape?

As a general rule, the statute of limitations for statutory rape will depend on the seriousness of the criminal activity, particularity the age disparity between the alleged victim and the defendant.

  • PC 261.5(b) – If the two people involved are less than three years apart at the time of the crime, the defendant will be charged with a misdemeanor. The Statute of Limitations is one year for this statute
  • PC 261.5(c) – If the two people involved are more than three years apart at the time of the crime, the defendant can be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. The Statute of Limitations is three years for this conviction if filed as a felony.
  • The DNA Exception rule allows for prosecution of statutory rape within one year of the date on which the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by DNA testing or within 10 years of the offense (PC Section 803).

Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You

Calculating the statute of limitations for a particular crime can be a very difficult task. The law in California is very complicated and full of exceptions. Prosecutors frequently make errors during this process. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are experienced in the nuances in this area of the law and can navigate this complicated process for you. It is possible that the statute of limitations for the crime you are being charged with expired before charges were brought.

Our attorneys are experienced in this area of the law, and we may be able to move quickly to have your case dismissed. It is also possible that the prosecutors wrongfully classified your charge. Even if our attorneys cannot get your charges dismissed, we can work with state prosecutors to have your charges lowered to misdemeanors.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are being charged with a statutory rape or any other sexually-related offense, it is imperative that you contact our law offices immediately. Our attorneys have the experience to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We will fight for your freedom every step of the way.

Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance and Sherman Oaks. Give us a call today at (888) 280-6839. We will be there when you call.

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.