In legal terms, rape is defined as having sexual intercourse with another person, without their consent. As a crime, rape is generally classified as a violent felony. While the wording can vary slightly, each state has its own rape laws that define the act of rape as unlawful sexual intercourse without a person’s consent, regardless of the victim’s gender.

There are many different scenarios in which an individual can be charged with rape. The following are some examples of such scenarios:

  • When an individual engages in sexual intercourse against another person’s will, or without that person’s consent, utilizing force, violence, duress, menace, fear, or fraud;
  • When a victim is too intoxicated to consent, and someone engages in sexual conduct with the victim;
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with someone who suffers from a mental or physical disability which prevents them from being able to consent to the sexual conduct; and
  • When a person engages in sexual conduct with someone that is incapacitated, meaning that the victim was unaware that they are engaging in a sexual act. A common example of this would be someone who is sleeping.

However, California maintains more specific laws regarding rape and how it is defined. According to California criminal laws, rape is defined as any type of nonconsensual sexual intercourse that happens due to fraud, force, or threat of force. Sexual intercourse is described as any type of penetrative act, and consent can only be given by free will.

Although California law does not explicitly include consent, lack of consent is a vital aspect of the crime. In California, consent is defined as cooperation given by attitude or action of the person of their own free will. The person giving consent must do so with the knowledge of the nature of the sexual act. When interpreting whether consent was given, the court will look at all of the evidence and testimony provided. 

Age of consent refers to the separate charge of statutory rape. The age of consent is the age of majority set by the individual states. While age of consent is tied to the ability to give consent, in California, and most states, it can result in a separate charge. The age of consent in California is 18 years. Thus, any adult over the age of majority may be charged with statutory rape if caught engaging in sexual activities with a minor under the age of 18. 

What Is Fraud?

Fraud involves a scheme to cheat or deceive others in order to get some kind of financial or similar gain. Any act intended to deceive through a false representation of some fact, resulting in the legal detriment of the person who relies on the false information, can be considered an act of criminal fraud.

Generally speaking, fraud has several legal elements that must be proven in court in order to support a criminal conviction. Such elements include:

  • Misrepresentation of a material fact;
  • By someone who knows that the material fact is false;
  • With intent to defraud;
  • A person or entity who justifiably relies on the misrepresentation; and
  • Actual injury or damages result from that reliance on the false representation.

Essentially, if someone knowingly lies about an important or key fact in a transaction or relationship, and the other party relies on that false information and then suffers some kind of harm, there is a case of fraud. 

Rape by fraud occurs when a person intentionally conceals an important fact, or knowingly makes a false representation of truth, in order to influence someone into having sex with them. An example of this would be when a person of power knowingly makes a false representation about a job, in order to induce the victim to have sex with them.

How Does California Define Rape By Means of Fraud?

According to California Penal Code Section 261, it is illegal for a person to have any “non consensual sexual intercourse accompanied by means of threat, force, or fraud.” As previously mentioned, under California laws, rape by deception occurs when a person intentionally and falsely misrepresents the truth in order to unduly influence someone else into having sex with them.

In order to convict a person of rape by means of fraud under PC 261, the prosecution is responsible for proving all of the following elements:

  • The defendant had sexual intercourse with the plaintiff;
  • At the time of the sexual act(s), the defendant and the plaintiff were not married;
  • The plaintiff did not consent to the act of sexual intercourse; and
  • The act was accomplished by means of threat, force, or fraud in order to persuade the plaintiff into engaging in sexual intercourse with the defendant.

An example of this crime would be a case tried in 2009. The defendant snuck into a woman’s house while she was sleeping, after seeing her boyfriend leave the residence. The defendant began to have sexual intercourse with the woman, and believing that the man was her boyfriend, the woman consented.

However, once she discovered that the man was not her boyfriend, she fought the man off and he was later arrested. He was then convicted of rape by deception, or rape by fraud, under California laws due to the fact that he falsely represented himself as the woman’s boyfriend.

What Is the Punishment for Rape by Means of Fraud in California?

In California, rape is charged as a felony. The punishment for such crimes depends on the surrounding circumstances, as well as the age of the alleged victim. If force or violence were not used to accomplish the act, the defendant can face probation along with up to one year in county jail. 

However, if force or violence were used, then the defendant can face a prison sentence for three to eight years. Additionally, if the victim was a minor at the time, the defendant may be sentenced to an additional seven to thirteen years in prison. If the victim was under the age of fourteen, the defendant could face nine to thirteen years spent in prison.

Additionally, the defendant can face an additional three to five years in prison if the victim sustained great bodily injury, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. They will also receive a strike on their record.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Fight My Rape by Fraud Charge in California?

If you live in California and you are being accused of rape by fraud, you should immediately consult with a California criminal lawyer. As you can see, there are many variables in punishment should you be found guilty. Additionally, there are various California laws that could affect your case, in addition to federal rape laws. An example of this would be how you could face additional prison time if the victim was a household member or spouse.

A skilled and knowledgeable California criminal defense attorney will be aware of what local laws will influence your case, as well as what your rights as a criminal defendant are. The attorney will research the facts of your case and prepare any defenses that may be available to you. They will represent you in court as needed while defending your rights.