People v. Olsen
Supreme Court of California
36 Cal.3d 638, 685 P.2d 52 (1984)
Shawn M., a female under the age of 14, slept in her family’s camper parked in the driveway while out-of-town guests stayed in her room. On the third night, Shawn was awakened by the sound of barking dogs and by her “boyfriend,” Garcia (defendant), standing over her with his hand over her mouth and a knife by his side. Garcia then told Olsen (defendant) to come into the camper and instructed Shawn to have sexual intercourse with Olsen or he would stab her. Shawn’s father walked in on Olsen having sex with his daughter and attempted to pull him off of her when he was stabbed by Garcia. Garcia was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and both Garcia and Olsen were charged with burglary, forcible rape, lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14 by use of force, and of violating § 288 of California’s Penal Code, which stated: “[A]ny person who shall willfully and lewdly commit any lewd or lascivious act…upon or with the body, or any part of member thereof, of a child under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of such person or of such child, shall be guilty of a felony…” At trial, Shawn testified that she was good friends “off and on” with Olsen and that during one three-month period she spent nearly every day at Olsen’s house. Shawn also admitted that she told both Garcia and Olsen that she was over 16-years-old. Garcia testified that on the day prior to the incident, he and Shawn had sex in the camper. Garcia then testified that Shawn invited him back the following night. When Olsen and Garcia showed up at the camper, Garcia testified that Shawn let them in the camper and that she wanted to “make love” to Olsen first. Garcia denied threatening Shawn with a knife. The jury found Garcia guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and found both Garcia and Olsen guilty of violating § 288 of the state’s penal code. The jury also found Garcia and Olsen not guilty of burglary, forcible rape, and lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14 by use of force. Garcia and Olsen appealed, arguing that a good faith belief as to the age of the victim is a defense to a § 288 charge.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bird, C.J.)
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