16 year old girl became pregnant by her 20-year old friend

By Schonauer Law on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:42 AM in Legal Questions


Say a 16 year old girl became pregnant by her friend who is a 20 year old male.  He really wants to be in the baby's life but must admit having sex with a minor. What would be the best way to come about this situation and what would be his consequences if:

  1. He didn't know her real age and she admits to not telling him until after she found out she was pregnant.
  2. Nobody is against him (nor her or his parents)
  3. The girl’s parents welcomed him into the family while knowing his age
  4. He wants no relationship with the minor just his child.


Interesting question.  First, let us determine what the father is guilt of:

Under California law, a person who engages in an act of sexual intercourse with a minor, who is not his or her spouse, is guilty of statutory rape. Statutory rape is a “strict” liability crime. That means there is no “knowledge” component. All that must happen is that a person over the age of 18 engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18. Even if consensual, or even if instigated by the minor, it matters not. It sounds like he is guilty of statutory rape.

If the person is over three years younger, as you report here, the crime is a wobbler, that is, it can be a misdemeanor or a felony, and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year (misd.) or up to three years in the state prison (felony). If there is only a three year or less span of age, it is a misdemeanor.

I presume “one-time” thing was consensual. California statutes dealing with parentage (the rights of a parent) determine the father’s rights. If there is no other presumed father under the law (this can get tricky), then he can assert his rights as a parent if he can establish he is the father.

The court has no jurisdiction to make a custody award unless he is found to be the child’s parent. I assume that no other person is the presumed father under California law. This is important. If she was 15 when this happened, he was 21, and he is convicted of the rape, then he will likely have no right to assert any rights as parent. Otherwise, he will first must establish that he is the parent before he has any right to custody, and likely visitation. This can be done my declaration of the parties or through a paternity test.

Whether the district attorney will prosecute is unknown. Generally, a father behind bars is not in the best interest of the child. Even if he is convicted and sentenced, according to your facts, he can assert his rights as the father.

Good Luck