Sex crimes are categorized among the most severe crimes in the state of California. Stiff measures have been put in place to ensure that sex crime rates are declining in the state. A single conviction of a sex offense can have a lasting impact on the life of the offender. The problem is, not everyone that is accused of a sex crime is a real offender. Some people have been wrongly accused, and they are suffering the consequences of a crime they did not commit many years later.
To avoid the severe penalties and the long-term consequences, California Criminal Lawyer Group can help with your defense. If you or your loved one are facing a sex crime charge, get in touch with us. Our competent attorneys will utilize every resource available to seek to have your charges dropped or reduced.
California Laws on Sex Crimes
Many different laws in California fall under the category of sex crimes. Some are convicted as misdemeanors and others as felonies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, the nature of the offense, and whether or not the accused is a first-time offender. However, every conviction of a sex crime is severe in the state, and this means hefty penalties, many years behind bars and several conditions that could have a lasting effect on the offender's life.
Other than that, sex crimes come with the social stigma that affects the social wellbeing of the offender. Being labeled as a sex offender is not an easy thing to deal with. To make things worse, most sex crime convictions in the state require the offender to register as a sex offender for several years, and this means that the disgrace goes on with them year after year.
These are some of the reasons why you need to fight any sex crime charge that you face. The help of a criminal defense attorney goes a long way in ensuring that your charges are reduced or dropped and that the accusation is not affecting your life in any way.
Among the most serious sex crimes in the state is the crime of Rape. Rape and Attempted Rape crimes are some of the most reported sex crimes throughout the state, and it is worth noting that reported crimes are usually not the same as the actual crimes. Some victims do not report their offenders or the offense while others make false accusations to get back at a person that hurt them in the past. Many people are paying for Rape crimes that they did not commit in the first place, and only a competent criminal defense attorney could save such a person from the devastating effects of an unfair sex crime conviction.
The Various Sex Crimes Laws in California
California Penal Code has several laws in place that govern sex crimes, providing detailed legal definitions of the crimes and the consequences of violating those crimes. Some of the most common sex crimes in the state include:
The Crime of Rape
In California, the law against Rape is provided under Section 261 of the California Penal Code. The law defines Rape as an act by a person against another involving sexual intercourse with that other person without their consent. It is a non-consensual sexual act by a person against another using threat, fraud, and force or performed when the victim is incapable of consenting or unconscious.
Note that the crime of Rape does not always involve physical force. A man found guilty of having sexual intercourse with a woman who has passed out, or a male doctor who tricks his patients that having sexual intercourse with them is the only they can get cured of a particular illness can both be accused and convicted of Rape.
Several sex crimes fall under the general category of Rape in the state, including:
Spousal Rape as provided under Section Code 262 of the California statutes
This happens when a person is found guilty of raping their wife or husband. Spousal/marital Rape in the state is a felony offense, and the penalties are as steep as those imposed on all other Rape offenders.
Spousal Rape is not just a sex crime but also a domestic violence offense. This means that a person found guilty of this offense can face additional penalties of Rape and domestic violence if the circumstances of the crime satisfy the elements of both crimes.
Date Rape is defined as a non-consensual act that happens between two people who are in a dating relationship or are spending time together. Even though it sounds casual, Date Rape is just the same as the typical California Rape and will be convicted in the same manner.
Statutory Rape as provided under Section 261.5 of California laws
Statutory Rape happens when a person engages in the act of sexual intercourse with a person under the legal age of 18. The crime is also referred to as illegal sex with a minor or unlawful sexual intercourse. The legal age of consent in the state is usually 18 years, before which a person is considered incapable of consenting to sex.
Statutory Rape will still be charged and convicted as Rape even if the sexual act was initiated by the minor, who is supposed to be the victim of the crime. The truth is, the world we are living today is different, and teenagers are engaging in sexual acts every day. This means that Statutory Rape occurs every day, and when it is reported, many law-abiding citizens are finding themselves being prosecuted.
Oral Copulation by Force or Fear as provided under Section 288a of the California statutes
Oral Copulation by force or fear happens when one person establishes contact between another person's mouth and their anus or genitals without that person's consent. Oral Copulation is considered illegal if it results from violence, force, menace, duress, threat, or fear. It will also be unlawful if it happens when one party, in this case, the victim was unconscious, intoxicated, or unable to give consent. The offense is convicted as a felony in the state and could attract a penalty of up to eight years in prison.
A person convicted of Oral Copulation by force or fear may also be required to register with the state yearly for the rest of their lives, failure to which they face additional felony charges.
Forcible Penetration with a Foreign Object as provided under Section 289 of California Penal Code
This crime, which is also referred to as forcible sexual penetration or penetration by force or fear happens when a person forces a sexual penetration on another person using an unknown or foreign object without their consent. When this penetration is done through the use of violence, force, threat to retaliate, fear of immediate bodily injury, duress, and menace, it could attract severe penalties on the part of the offender.
Punishment for Rape in California
The crime of Rape attracts severe penalties and other lifelong consequences that could affect several aspects of an offender's life. If found guilty of Rape, an offender will get between 3 and eight years in state prison. There are hefty fines to pay too, as well as the stigma that follows you like a shadow, throughout your life. If the alleged victim is a minor, the minimum jail sentence you could get is seven years behind bars, and a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison.
Child Sexual Abuse
The law against unceasing sexual exploitation of a minor is provided under Section 288.5 of the California Penal Code. This law makes it illegal for a person who lives with a minor, or has frequent access to a child that is less than 14 years of age to commit one or more of the following actions:
- Substantial sexual contact: this refers to Oral Copulation with a minor, masturbation of the offender or the minor, penetration of the offender’s or the minor’s rectum or vagina by the other person’s penis or a foreign object. Note that Oral Copulation, in this case, is a separate offense, as provided under Section 288a.
- Lewd acts: as provided under Section 288, lewd or lascivious acts on a minor entail willfully touching a child to arouse that child sexually or get sexually aroused. This kind of touching does not necessarily have to be done in a sexual or lewd manner. Any direct contact with the child's skin or their private parts is not allowed under this law. Note that any body part of the child or the clothes they are wearing could be touched and can amount to lewd acts on a child.
Recurring access to the child as used in this law means that an offender is a person that is well-known to the minor, someone who has an ongoing contact or ability to approach the child time and again.
The penalties for endless sexual abuse on a minor are very stiff, and the offense is only convicted as a felony. The offender can get 6, 12, or even 16 years of jail time. It is only on rare occasions that a judge can consider giving the offender probation with at least one year of serving behind bars.
In addition to that, the offense is a strike under the state’s Three Strikes Law. What this means is that the offender must register as a sex offender for life if they are convicted of the crime.
Prostitution and Solicitation
Prostitution and Solicitation is a crime in California as provided under Section 647b of the state laws. The law makes it a misdemeanor offense for anyone that is 18 years or older to do the following:
- To pay or receive payment to perform a sexual act
- To offer themselves to engage in acts of prostitution
- To agree to take part in the act of prostitution
Note that this law applies to both the prostitute and their customers. The law provides that when a prostitute and his/her customer engage in a sexual or lewd act, both of them are involved in the act of prostitution and so, will both be charged under PC Code 647(b).
A man who, for instance, offers money or drugs to a woman in exchange for oral sex, or a woman who allows a man to have sex with her in exchange for money are both guilty of prostitution.
A first offender in the state may be convicted to a maximum of 6 months in jail, with a fine of a maximum of one thousand dollars.
Subsequent convictions also called priorable offenses to attract heftier penalties, and the penalties increase with each subsequent charge. A second offender will, for instance, get a mandatory jail term of 45 days on the minimum. A third offender will get at least 90 days of jail time.
Additional penalties apply under certain circumstances for the crime of Prostitution and Solicitation. If, for instance, the crime happened in a vehicle, or the offender was within a 1000 feet distance from a residence, they will face the following additional penalties:
- Suspension of their driver’s license for at least thirty days
- A restriction on their driver’s license for at least six months.
Laws prohibiting Indecent Exposure in California are not permitted under Section 314 of the state's laws. The crime itself is defined as willfully exposing one's genitals to someone else with the intention of arousing sexual desire or sexual gratification on oneself or the other person. The law on Indecent Exposure in California is quite broad, and so, the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney will be needed to ensure that your rights have not been violated.
Even after so much has changed in what society considers as indecent, the law on Indecent Exposure in the state has not changed much since it was enacted in 1872. Some of the behavior that could qualify as Indecent Exposure includes:
- A man who exposes his genitals to anyone passing by a street corner
- A woman who exposes their breasts in public to sexually gratify her boyfriend or other men
Indecent Exposure doesn't seem like a serious offense, but in the state of California, it is as severe as all other sex crimes and its penalties are equally devastating.
A first offender will face a misdemeanor conviction and could be sentenced to up to six months in jail, with/or a fine amounting to $1000. A second offender may face a felony conviction, sentencing them to prison time.
In addition to that, the offender may be compelled to serve a 10-year duty, on the minimum, to register as a Tier one sex offender
A more serious form of this offense will be aggravated Indecent Exposure, which occurs when a person exposes themselves in a building, an inhabited home, or a trailer without permission. Aggravated Indecent Exposure is a wobbler in California, and so, will be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, the crime will be penalized as above, but if you are sentenced to a felony, you might get 16 months, two or three years of prison time, a fine amounting to $10,000, and duty of minimum ten years to register as a sex offender.
Possible Defenses in California’s Sex Crimes
A conviction of sex crime in California can leave you paying dearly for the same crime many years after the sentencing. That is why you need the best criminal defense attorney working on your case. A smart attorney may prove to the court that you are not guilty of the charge you are facing, especially if you are wrongly accused. He/she should also be able to convince the court that you did not willfully act the way you did. There is so much your attorney can do to help with your case. Here are some of the defense strategies that he/she could use:
That you are a victim of false accusation
As mentioned above, many people have been indicted for sex crimes that they did not commit. False accusations are always expected in a crime like this, especially because there are no witnesses to attest to the fact that the accused indeed sexually violated the alleged victim. Some people will falsely accuse another person to seek revenge. Others act out of anger or jealousy. An aggressive attorney will be able to prove without a reasonable doubt that you did not commit the crime you are accused of committing. If successful, all charges against you will be dropped.
A case of mistaken identity
There is also the possibility of a well-meaning person to be mistakenly identified as a sex offender, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense. In a case of Rape, for instance, and the victim was unconscious or drunk, they may not be able to identify the actual perpetrator if there were many people around them at that time. This can also happen if the alleged crime happened in a dark environment or the perpetrator had hidden their face. In the unfortunate event that you resemble the perpetrator, you may be mistaken for them. It is your attorney's duty to do all they can to prove to the court that you are not the actual offender.
Every sex crime has a set of elements that should be satisfied for the court to find the accused guilty of the offense. If all elements in a crime are not fully satisfied, then the prosecutor will not have provided sufficient evidence, and so, the offender may not be found guilty of the offense. In the case of prostitution, for instance, the prosecutor needs to prove that the accused had the intention of engaging in the act of Prostitution or Solicitation. The intention must be clear. Otherwise, they may not be found guilty. In a case of Statutory Rape, there must be proof that the accused willfully committed an act of sexual intercourse with a minor, knowing too well that the victim was a minor of 18 years and younger.
You had a reason to believe that consent was given
If the offender had an honest and reasonable belief that consent was given to intercourse or Oral Copulation, the court might not find them guilty of the sex crime they are facing. Sex crimes can be a little tricky, especially when proof of consent is required. The offender may argue that since the victim did not resist their sexual advances, they consented to the act. However, if the victim tried to resist, or said no to the act, or they were unconscious or drunk, that should automatically mean that they were not consenting to the act.
No sexual contact occurred
Again, there is usually no way to prove that sexual intercourse occurred between two people, especially if the offense happened several months or years ago. Your attorney may try to prove to the court that there was no sexual contact between you and the victim. If he/she succeeds, your case may be dismissed.
It is important to note that being too intoxicated to the point of not knowing that what you were doing is wrong will not be accepted as a defense to any California sex crime, especially if the intoxication was voluntary.
Find a California Criminal Lawyer Near Me
A sex crime conviction can affect your life in many ways and for a very long time. Being labeled as a sex offender will not only affect your self-esteem but also your relationship with members of your family and the society in general. Sex offenders also find it hard to find jobs or to gain the trust of other people. That is why you need expert legal representation if you do not want to be convicted of the sex crime charges you are facing. California Criminal Lawyer Group offers reliable criminal defense services that could help have your charges reduced or dropped. Call us at 408-622-0204 to book an appointment with us if you are in the San Jose area.