Two Rape Convictions Based on a Single Act of Intercourse - Example Case

In People v. Craig (1941) 17 Cal.2d 453, the California Supreme Court held that under Penal Code section 261, only "one punishable offense of rape results from a single act of intercourse, although that act may be accomplished under more than one of the conditions or circumstances specified in the ... subdivisions. These subdivisions merely define the circumstances under which an act of intercourse may be deemed an act of rape; they are not to be construed as creating several offenses of rape based upon that single act." (17 Cal.2d at p. 455.) The defendant in Craig was convicted of two counts of rape based on a single act of intercourse committed without consent and against the will of the 16-year-old victim. (Craig, supra, 17 Cal.2d at p. 454.) The first count alleged rape by force and the second count alleged the victim was under the age of consent. (Ibid.) The Craig court held: "There has been a violation of but one statute--section 261 of the Penal Code. And, while the proof necessarily varies with respect to the several subdivisions of that section under which the charge may be brought, the sole punishable offense under any and all of them is the unlawful intercourse with the victim. ... Only one punishable offense of rape results from a single act of intercourse, though it may be chargeable in separate counts when accomplished under the varying circumstances specified in the subdivisions of section 261 of the Penal Code." (17 Cal.2d at p. 458.)