California Penal Code 264.1 PC makes it a crime to act in concert with one or more other people in the commission of a rape. This offense is commonly referred to as a “gang rape“ or “rape in concert“. It applies when two or more people work together to engage in non-consensual sex with a victim.
Specifically, the statute defines rape in concert as:
“Voluntarily acting in concert with another person, by force or violence and against the will of the victim [to commit a sex crime], either personally or by aiding and abetting the other person…”
1. What does it mean to engage in rape in concert?
Rape in concert under Penal Code 264.1 can happen in 2 ways:
- Personally committing rape while someone else is assisting in the rape, or
- Aiding and abetting someone else who committed forcible rape.1
This is why the section is referred to as gang rape. It applies when multiple people team up together to commit rape. These people are:
- the person actually raping someone else, and
- that person’s accomplices.
2. What does “aiding and abetting” mean?
“Aiding and abetting” in this context means helping someone commit forcible rape. Aiding and abetting occurs when a defendant:
- knows the perpetrator plans to commit the crime,
- intends to help carry out the crime, and
- actually assists, facilitates or encourages the commission of the crime, whether through words or actions.2
Important factors include:
- The presence of the defendant at the scene of the crime,
- Whether the defendant is a companion of the person who directly committed the crime, and
- The defendant’s conduct before or after the offense.3
However, physical presence is not required to aid and abet a crime.4 Physical assistance is also not required – instigating the commission of the crime is enough.5
3. To what forms of rape does Penal Code 264.1 apply?
The section only applies if there was a serious sex crime. These offenses include:
- Rape (Penal Code 261 PC),
- Spousal rape (Penal Code 262 PC), or
- Forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object (Penal Code 289 PC).
4. What are some examples of sex in concert?
- One man holds a woman down and beats her while a second man rapes her,6
- One man forces a woman to perform oral sex after another man raped her at gunpoint and then left the room,7 and
- 3 men rob a family in their house. While 2 of them hold the family at gunpoint, the third person pulls the wife into the bathroom and rapes her.8
5. Are there related offenses?
Sex in concert charges come with forcible rape charges. However, there are other criminal charges that are often filed together with PC 264.1. These include:
- Assault (Penal Code 240 PC)
- Battery (Penal Code 242 PC)
- Assault with intent to rape (Penal Code 220 PC)
- Oral Copulation (Penal Code 287 PC)
- Sexual Battery (Penal Code 243.4 PC)
- Lewd Acts with a Minor (Penal Code 288(a) PC)
- Statutory Rape (Penal Code 261.5 PC)
- Sodomy (Penal Code 286 PC)
6. What are common defenses?
People charged with having sex in concert with someone else can raise legal defenses to fight the charge. The 2 most common defenses that criminal defense lawyers use are:
- Lack of intent to aid and abet the crime, and
People who initially intend to help someone commit a crime can withdraw their help. To withdraw from the commission of forcible rape, defendants must:
- notify everyone else known to be involved that they are no longer helping, and
- do everything reasonably in their power to prevent the crime from happening.9
Notifying others of withdrawal has to be done early enough in the process to prevent the commission of the crime.10
Other potential defenses to rape in concert charges are:
- False accusations: Sometimes accusers levy false accusations after regretting a sexual act or wanting to get the accused in trouble.
- Consent: If the accuser in fact consented to the sex act freely and voluntarily, then no sexual assault occurred.
- No knowledge: If the defendant honestly did not know that rape was about to occur, then criminal charges cannot stand.
- Misidentification: It is not unusual for innocent people to be mistakenly picked up out of a lineup in bad lighting, especially by traumatized victims being pressured by police to pick someone.
- Mere Presence: People who are simply at the scene of a crime and did not do anything to cause the crime have not broken the law.
- Law enforcement misconduct: Examples are coercing a confession or conducting an illegal search.
Typical evidence in these cases includes eyewitness accounts, surveillance video, and medical records. And the defendant’s attorneys would do a thorough investigation in attempt to impeach the accuser’s credibility and unearth any motivations to lie.
In any case, prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the D.A. fails to meet this burden, the charge should be dropped.
7. What are the penalties?
Rape in concert under California law is always a felony, counts as a “strike“, and requires defendants to register as a sex offender. The prison sentence for a rape in concert conviction depends on the age of the victim.
|Victim age ||“Rape in Concert” sentence|
|Adult over the age of 18||5, 7, or 9 years|
|Minor between 14 and 18||7, 9, or 11 years|
|Minor under the age of 14||10, 12, or 14 years|
These punishments are in addition to the sentence for the underlying rape crime conviction. Penal Code 264.1 is a crime in itself, not a penalty enhancement for other offenses.11
Have you been accused of rape or other sex offense in California? Contact our criminal law firm for legal advice. Our criminal defense attorneys practice in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California. And we defend against all types of felony and misdemeanor charges, from DUI and drug possession to lewd conduct and theft.
- California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 1001. California Penal Code Section 264.1 PC.
- California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 401.
- People v. Singleton, (Cal. App. 1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 488.
- People v. Bohmer, (Cal. App. 1975) 46 Cal.App.3d 185.
- People v. Booth, (Cal. App. 1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1247.
- People v. Best, (Cal. App. 1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 232.
- People v. Barnett, (Cal. App. 1976) 54 Cal.App.3d 1046.
- People v. Champion, (Cal. 1995) 891 P.2d 93.
- California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 401.
- Same. See also: People v. Barnett (1976) 54 Cal.App.3d 1046; People v. Lopez (1981) 116 Cal.App.3d 882; People v. Champion (1995) 9 Cal.4th 879.
- People v. Best, Supra.