In recent news, former NFL safety, Darren Sharper, has reportedly faced accusations of rape exposing him to prison time in both California and Louisiana. In the California case, Mr. Sharper faces charges of rape by use of drugs which is common in “date rape” scenarios. (see http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/28/justice/louisiana-darren-sharper-arrest/) Charges of “date rape” and/or rape by use of drugs and can lead to very long prison sentences if not properly defended by an experienced California Criminal Defense attorney whether your case is filed in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or any other county in California.
When a person is accused of a sex offense, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony, there are many options and defenses a defendant can use to avoid the extremely harsh outcome of being required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. An experienced criminal defense attorney can utilize many options to alter the outcome of a very serious charge to benefit their client by not only avoiding jail or prison time but also avoiding the lifetime sex offender registration requirement.
Sexual Assault of a Drunk or Unconscious Person in California
Rape charges of a person who is drunk or under the influence of drugs is a common charge in California and can stem from a night out of two persons in a consensual dating encounter. Rape can be an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person when a person is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act, and this is known to the accused. Under Penal Code Section 261(a)(4) “Unconscious of the nature of the act” means incapable of resisting because the victim was unconscious or asleep, or was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant that the act occurred.” See California Penal Code Section 261(a)(4)(A), Penal Code Section 261(a)(4)(B). Similarly, under California Penal Code Section 288a(f), the crime of Oral Copulation of an Unconscious Person, requires that the victim is unconscious of the nature of the act and this is known to the person committing the act.
There are times when both person on a date engage in sexual intercourse after a night out of drinking or using illicit substances and both cannot remember the exact night and the act of sex. In such instances, a person may still be charged with rape but such charges are tougher to prove by the District Attorney and a skilled California Criminal Defense lawyer will have many chances to obtain a dismissal or not guilty verdict in such a case.
Rape by Use of Drugs in California
In many rape cases, the parties may know each other and may be on a date but the victim then ends up having sex with his or her partner after being given a drug or alcohol unknowingly. This situation deals in many instances with the “date rape” drug Rohypnol. A common defense to rape is that the victim “consented” to the encounter. However, if the prosecutor can prove that the victim was involuntary given drugs or alcohol without their knowledge, a person may be convicted of rape since the rape by drugs makes the victim’s consent “involuntary.” Rape by use of drugs cases can be complicated and an experienced criminal defense lawyer will often hire experts such as toxicologist to assist with the defense of an accused. Many times person arrested of “date rape” are young men in college, professionals and person with little to no criminal background. It is very important for such persons who have no experience being in the criminal system in California to not give a statement to the police when arrested and to immediately consult with and retain a qualified criminal defense attorney.
Penalties/Punishment for a Sexual Assault Conviction under California Penal Code
If convicted of rape under California Penal Code section 261 which is a felony, a person may get probation including local jail time up to one year or 3, 6 or 8 years in the California state prison depending on the Court’s sentence. In addition, if the rape included violence that caused great bodily injury to the victim, a person may face an additional 3 to 5 years in state prison.
Moreover, if the victim of a rape is a minor under the age of 18, a person will face more time in state prison including either 7, 9 or 11 years in state prison and even more time if the victim is under the age of 14.
In addition, perhaps the most significant penalty one can face after a rape conviction is a mandatory lifetime registration requirement under California Penal Code section 290. Such a registration requirement is not only a burden but often times will negatively affect a person’s ability to make a living for the rest of their lives.
The Need to Retain A Quality California Criminal Defense Law Firm to Defend Accusations of Sexual Assault
Clearly, the consequences of being convicted of rape in California are severe whether you’re an NFL player or a working professional. As such, if you are arrested for rape do not give any statement to any law enforcement authorizes and immediately contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney whether your charges arise out of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or any other County in Northern or Southern California. Call our office at (310) 623-3771 for a free phone consultation on any criminal sex crime accusation in CA.