There may be defenses and a skilled attorney can address those with the client. If for example, the minor disclosed they were over 18, that could be a defense. Also, a defense is not always affirmative. For example, the DA has to prove all the elements of the crime, including sex. Sometimes that is more difficult that it would appear.
An attorney is always better at helping negotiate a lesser penalty than someone without a lawyer. Hire one or ask for the public defender.
The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.
Generally there is no intent requirement for statutory rape, even if she claimed to be older. It may be a mitigating circumstance. I'd highly consider retaining a criminal lawyer in California that will be able to assist you. Thank you and I wish you the best of luck!
Your family member may not even have to receive the minimum penalty. The Prosecution has to prove that your family member actually had sex with the minor. You should definitely contact an attorney. This case could lead to lifetime sex offender registration. If the minor had valid ID that showed he/she was above 18 or a reasonable person concluded based on her words that he/she was over 18, those could be defenses. Give me a call if you would like to discuss your case.
Seth Weinstein, Esq.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply.
Hire an attorney ASAP so that he/she can begin investigating the matter immediately. It may be that the minor female and her family don't want to prosecute which is not dispositive of the matter but it does provide a lot of leverage especially if the minor goes "sideways" and changes her initial story. Hire a lawyer ASAP, the matter may take a while to resolve this one as the alleged victim goes from 16 to 19 through several continuance motions. Good luck.