The stigmatization of rape allegations in California


Both the victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault charges face significant and sometimes lasting social stigmas. It is well known that the majority of rape victims do not report their sexual assault to law enforcement, often because they are worried about the publicity of such charges and the social stigma they may face. On the other hand, some individuals do make allegations of rape or sexual assault against people, and those charges can potentially impact the alleged abuser for years to come. Criminal background checks, employers conducting background checks, potential romantic interests who search the web for information on those individuals can all uncover charges of sexual assault or rape – even if those original charges are later disproven.

What specific California laws address rape and/or sexual abuse charges?

California’s Penal Code governs rape and sexual assault charges, and Sections 261-269 address the definitions of different sexual assault charges and the judicial punishments associated with convictions under or pleas to these charges.

Section 261(a) defines rape as “an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator” where the victim is 1) unable to give consent, 2) does not give consent, 3) is unconscious, or 4) is incapacitated in another manner described within this penal code section. Please note that although this specific section defines rape as an act performed upon an individual who is not the perpetrator’s spouse, spousal rape is also outlawed in the State of California, and is specifically addressed in a further section of the penal code. This section provides that an individual convicted of rape under Section 261(a) may face punishment including prison terms of either three, six or eight years.

Rape charges may be brought against someone for assaults occurring regardless of the genders of either party. Additionally, victims do not need to provide that there was any prior relationship for rape to occur. Rape charges can be difficult to prove as they often occur between parties who know each other well, and who have had a prior relationship. Although they can be difficult to prove, the flip side of the coin is that rape charges can also be difficult to defend because of the complexity of each situation and the facts surrounding each charge.

If you or a loved one has been charged with rape, or any sexual assault or sexual abuse charge under California law, it is imperial and essential that you contact a local and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. Do not speak to the police or to prosecutors before you retain your own attorney. Call the Kosnett Law Firm today at (310) 751-0446 to set up your no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced and respected attorneys.

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