The History of California Spousal Rape Law

Posted by Neil Shouse | Dec 09, 2009 | 0 Comments

Many people don't realize that California spousal rape is a crime. This misconception may be due to the fact that it didn't used to be. In fact, California Penal Code 262 spousal rape is a fairly recent offense…it didn't even become a law until 1979.

Throughout history, wives were looked upon as “property” owned by their husbands. As property, a wife didn't have the “right” to refuse sex with her husband.

However, in the 1970s, lobbyists in the anti-rape movement argued that spouses shouldn't be exempt from California rape laws. They believed…and convinced the California Legislature…that married women deserved the same protection from nonconsensual sex as unmarried women.

And even though California Penal Code 262 spousal rape is a separate offense from “traditional” rape, it is every bit as serious. It even carries the same maximum eight-year California State Prison sentence and a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender. Make no mistake about it…California marital rape is, in fact, a crime and will be aggressively prosecuted. Learn more about California spousal rape laws. Also refer to our article, "Is spousal rape a crime in Nevada?"

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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