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Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is a crime that happens when a person over 18 has sex with a minor, or when two minors have sex. Under California law, this is a crime even when the minor agrees to have sex. And it is a crime even when the minor’s parents know about and are okay with the relationship.

Even though the law says that any sexual act involving anyone under 18 (even, for example, consensual sex between two 17-year-olds) is a crime, the police do not make arrests in every situation, and the District Attorney and City Attorney do not prosecute every case.

It is more likely that law enforcement will make an arrest, and a statutory rape case will be prosecuted, if:

  • The age difference was more than five years.
  • The minor was using drugs or alcohol, or had a disability, or was otherwise less able to say no to sex.
  • The adult was in a position of trust (such as a teacher, counselor or coach) in relation to the minor.
  • The adult was a ‘repeat offender’ who had sex with more than one minor.
  • The relationship involved a lot of control, violence or exploitation.

It’s also important to know that some people, like doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, and other people who work with children and families, are required to report some cases of statutory rape to the Child Abuse hotline. The kinds of cases they must report include:

  • Someone under age 16 has sexual intercourse with someone 21 or older.
  • Someone 14 or 15 years old has any kind of sexual contact with someone 10 or more years older.
  • Someone under age 14 has any sexual contact with someone 14 years of age or older.
  • Someone who is related to a minor, lives in the same home or has authority over him/her (such as a teacher or coach) has any sexual contact with the minor.

Also, mandated reporters and anyone else may, but are not required to, report any other cases of statutory rape to the hotline or to the police.