In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.
Individuals aged 17 or younger in California are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.
Similarly, no protections are reserved for sexual relations in which one participant is a 17 year old and the second is a 18 or 19 year old. (a) Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the person is a minor.
For the purposes of this section, a “minor” is a person under the age of 18 years and an “adult” is a person who is at least 18 years of age.
Separate crimes exist for sodomy with minors and sexual intercourse between a child under age 14 who's attacker was at least seven years older. Close in age exemptions, commonly known as "Romeo and Juliet laws", are put in place to prevent the prosecution of individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both partners are below the age of consent.
Because there is no such "Romeo and Juliet law" in California, it is possible for two individuals both under the age of 18 who willingly engage in intercourse to both be prosecuted for statutory rape, although this is rare.
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