Most of our Fresno readers already know that rape is one of the most serious criminal charges that a person can face in California. But, what some of our readers may not know is that there are certain levels and degrees of criminal charges that a person might commonly refer to as rape. So, what are the laws regarding rape charges in California?
Force and fear are two of the major elements in almost every type of criminal case that involves rape-related charges. With the force element, the prosecution must show that the suspect used force or the threat of force to engage in sexual contact with the alleged victim. If this force or threat of force makes the victim fear that failure to submit would result in physical, bodily harm - or worse - chances are that the prosecution effort will be focused on pursuing the highest level of rape charges.
There are some circumstances that can make it much more difficult for a defendant to plan a criminal defense strategy against rape charges in California. For instance, if alcohol or some type of intoxication on the part of the victim is reported - and the suspect is alleged to have taken advantage of that state - the penalties could be worse. Or, if the alleged victim is under the age of fourteen, the charges could be worse as well.
Most people involved in the criminal justice system would probably be able to tell our readers that many rape charges involve he said-she said scenarios between two people who know each other. For anyone in this type of situation, there may be a valid defense: consent. If a defendant can show that the purported sexual contact between the defendant and the alleged victim was consensual, the defendant could be exonerated.