Rape Defense Lawyer in Marin County

What is Considered Rape Under California Law?

According to California Penal Code Section 261, rape as defined as nonconsensual sexual intercourse involving threats, force, fraud, or with someone who is unconscious or otherwise incapable of providing consent. Rape can involve the use of physical force or violence against another person. Rape can also be committed through duress by threatening someone with a specific consequence (e.g., an employer threatens to fire an employee unless the employee agrees to engage in intercourse). Rape can also be charged when someone is alleged to have threatened retaliation or bodily harm against another person.

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Common Rape Charges in California

There are multiple rape-related charges under California law, including:

  • Spousal / Marital Rape 
  • Statutory rape 
  • Date rape
  • Oral Copulation or Sodomy by Fraud
  • Forcible Penetration with a Foreign Object

Degrees of Rape

There are no specific degrees of rape under California law. Nevertheless, “enhancements” can result in harsher punishments, including longer prison sentences for convicted defendants.


How Prosecutors Prove Rape

For a prosecutor in Marin County to prove a defendant raped someone, they must present evidence that establishes, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following elements of the crime:

  • The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse, involving penetration, with the alleged victim. 
  • The defendant and the alleged victim were not married at the time of the sexual act. 
  • The alleged victim did not consent to engage in sexual intercourse with the defendant.
  • The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse through means of force, violence, menace, duress, fear and/or fraud.

When you retain the services of a skilled rape lawyer in Marin County, they will work to build a defense that raises reasonable doubt as to the veracity of the allegations levied against you.

Defense Against Rape Charges

When it comes to rape charges, it is important to remember that defendants are presumed innocent and only when convicted in a court of law should an assessment of guilty be levied. This is an important reminder since many people are genuinely shocked when they are charged with rape.

The details of these types of case will impact how a Marin County rape lawyer will approach the defense. Some common defenses used against rape allegations include:

  • Consensual Sexual Interacourse – Consent can be provided verbally by a definitive “yes,” or through non-verbal cues. Examples of non-verbal cues include heavy breathing, moaning, removal of clothing, etc. The governing standard is “reasonable belief.” Basically, your Marin County rape defense lawyer should build a defense reflecting you had a reasonable belief that consent was present in the situation, even if not being expressly stated.
  • False Identification – In certain instances of alleged rape, the surrounding environment may feature poorly lighting, along with the use of drugs and/or alcohol. These factors could result in a situation where you are mistakenly identified as the rapist. In this situation, DNA evidence can play a significant role in determining the outcome of such a rape case.
  • False Accusation – In some instances, a defendant could be subjected to an accuser who is simply lying about a rape incident in order to exact revenge or inflict legal and reputational harm. When defending against false rape accusations, an experienced rape defense attorney with effective cross-examination skills is critically important.

California’s Rape Shield Law

Pursuant to California’s rape shield law, the defense is prohibited from introducing evidence about an alleged victim’s sexual history to try and show the victim did consent to sexual intercourse. However, the defense is allowed to introduce evidence about the victim’s sexual history if the objective is to establish that the accuser’s testimony should not be trusted. 

Penalties for Being Convicted or Rape

A rape conviction can have significant, life-altering repercussions. For example, a rape conviction means you will have a permanent criminal record which may adverseley impact your ability to secure meaningful employment or attend certain educational institutions. In addition, pursuant to California Penal Code 290, someone convicted of rape must register as a sex offender, which must be done for the remainder of your life. Other potential punishments associated with a rape conviction include:

  • Having to serve up to eight years in prison, along with an additional three to five years of prison time if the victim suffered bodily harm. Furthermore, if the victim was under the age of 18, your prison sentence could be enhanced to the point where you are ordered to serve up to 11 years.
  • A monetary fine of up to $10,000.
  • A strike on your record based on California’s Three Strikes Law.

How Kevin Heaney Can Help

If you are in need of an effective and experienced rape defense lawyer, then contact the Law Offices of Kevin Heaney today. Kevin is a respected rape defense attorney with more than two decades of experience advocating for clients charged with serious criminal offenses, including rape and sexual assault. 

FAQs About Rape Charges

  • What is statutory rape?

    According to California Penal Code Section 261.5, statutory rape is defined as sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor under the age of 18 years old. Statutory rape is also known as unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sex with a minor. Someone can be charged with statutory rape even when the sexual intercourse was consensual because a minor can’t legally give consent.

  • What is date rape?

    Date rape is a term used to describe an alleged rape incident involving two people who had freely decided to spend time together.

  • What is marital rape?

    In October 2021, California’s state legislature repealed the state’s marital rape law, formerly California Penal Code Section 262. This means marital rape is now subject to the same penalties as non-spousal rape, as defined under California Penal Code Section 261.

  • What is aggravated rape?

    California courts consider “circumstances in aggravation” in context of a defendant charged with raping another person. Circumstances in aggravation include: 

    • Whether the rape involved an act of violence or bodily harm.
    • Whether there was a threat of bodily harm. 
    • Whether there is evidence of other acts indicating an intent of viciousness, cruelty, or callousness.
  • What is the difference between aggravated assault and aggravated rape?

    Under California law, aggravated sexual assault is the act of an individual who is alleged to have touched, attacked, or caused sexual harm to another person against their will. In contrast, the concept of aggravated rape is addressed in the context of a rape trial and “aggravating factors” can be considered to enhance a defendant’s punishments, if convicted of raping another person. 

  • What is the difference between rape and sexual assault?

    Under California law, the key distinction between rape and sexual assault is the nature of the sexual act.  Specifically, rape involves penetration. In contrast, sexual assault occurs when there is alleged to have been nonconsensual contact with an intimate part of another’s body, not necessarily involving penetration.


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Kevin did an amazing job. He turned a nightmare into a really manageable situation. Without going into detail, I was facing some complications due to my record that would have made for a lengthy and grand problem. He was able to get it mitigated and really came away amazing, compared to where we started. Worth every penny and more. I feel that the work he did was more than commensurate for what he charged me. I will use him in the future and I would recommend him to family and friends.
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