When teenagers become sexually active, it brings to their lives a whole host of new complications and confusions.
While most high school students think of the emotional, social, and physical consequences of sex, few consider the legal gray area they might be entering.
The law exist because the Government doesn’t want any child above or even below the accepted age to be exploited by an adult.
So, to answer the question at hand, yes, it is illegal for an 18-year-old to date a 17-year-old in California provided that the term “date” is being used in this context as a euphemism for sexual intercourse and that the couple is not legally married.
Additionally, it should be noted that whether the crime of statutory rape is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony offense in California is dependent on the age difference between the offender and the victim.
For example, if the age difference between the offender and the minor is not more than three years, then he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor.
This is the case even if the intercourse is consensual.
For example, if a 25-year-old man has consensual sex with a 16-year-old girl who is not his wife, then he can be charged with statutory rape in California even if the teenage girl seduced him and he was unaware that she was underage.