Just as rape may occur between two strangers or two acquaintances, rape may also occur between husbands and wives. Marital rape—sometimes referred to as spousal rape—is a significant felony offense in California. A defendant who is convicted of marital rape under Penal Code § 262 may face the same penalties as another rape case. If you've been arrested for marital rape in California, consult a criminal defense lawyer who may protect you against the penalties that stem from a conviction.
Safeguarding those charged with sex crimes is sometimes complicated based on the delicate nature of the crime, the often impassioned protest from the media, and the prosecution's unfavorable portrayal of the accused individual. Nevertheless, a seasoned Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer may be able to raise a number of defenses to reduce or completely eliminate the marital rape charges against you.
How Is Marital Rape Defined in California?
Rape is considered any sexual intercourse carried out by force or under the risk of injury against a person's will or with a person who is below a certain age, or who is unfit to effectively consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception. Marital rape, as an extension, is considered any kind of rape between spouses.
Until 1975, all U.S. states had a “marital exemption” wherein a spouse could rape their partner without fear of legal consequences. By 1993, every state passed laws against marital rape. However, sometimes, it is still more difficult for a victim to prove that they did not consent to intercourse with a spouse than it would be to prove non-consent with a stranger.
Today, the State of California defines marital rape in Penal Code § 262 as an act of sexual intercourse under any of the following circumstances:
- Against a person's will using force or violence
- The person is prevented from resisting by any intoxicating or anesthetic substance
- The person is unconscious of the nature of the act at the time
- The act is carried out against the victim's will by threatening to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest, or deport the victim
If a defendant is found guilty of raping their partner, they may be sentenced to up to eight years in state prison, depending on the crime's specific elements. In some cases, the convicted individual may also be required to register as a sex offender in California.
Defenses to Marital Rape Charges in Santa Barbara
There are a few possible defenses to the crime of marital rape in California. They include:
- False allegation: You may be facing marital rape accusations from an alleged victim based on their anger or jealously after a failed marriage. Our spousal rape defense lawyers may be able to prove that the alleged victim made false allegations or lied about not giving consent.
- Insufficient evidence: Your case may not involve any physical evidence after the allegations of marital rape, and a prosecutor may find it difficult to prove that the crime occurred based solely on the victim's testimony.
- Presence of consent: Consent is a viable defense to marital rape, though it is only valid if given voluntarily, knowingly, and freely. If the victim was debilitated in any way, it might be challenging to persuade a jury that there was consent or that it was reasonable for the defendant to mistakenly believe that the victim did consent.
- The onus of proof: Another angle your defense lawyer may take is to promote doubt. The onus of proof lies with the prosecuting attorney, not the defense, which means the prosecution team must prove particular parts of the case beyond a reasonable doubt to garner a conviction.
Don't try to face your case alone. An expert Santa Barbara marital rape defense attorney may best be able to help you comprehend the law and strategize a winning approach based on the circumstances of your case.
Contact an Experienced Marital Rape Defense Lawyer at the Aron Law Firm
For questions about how marital rape and consent are defined under California law or to examine your case with one of our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys, get in touch with the Aron Law Firm as soon as possible. Our experienced lawyers are devoted to protecting your rights by investigating your case in detail and building a robust defense.
At the Aron Law Firm, we have experience protecting clients from a wide variety of criminal charges. We take a client-centered approach that aims to make the legal process as painless as possible. To speak with a criminal defense attorney, schedule a free consultation by calling (805) 618-1768 or completing our online contact form today.