Anyone charged with, or even accused, of a sex crime faces an uphill battle. The public, and even your friends and family, may immediately jump to conclusions about your guilt. For this reason, a lot of people charged with sex crimes just take a plea deal and say they are guilty, rather than fight the charges against them. A conviction for a sex crime can carry serious jail time. In some cases, a sex crime conviction can lead to a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender. With so much at stake, you should consider talking to experienced California defense lawyers who have successfully defended their clients to get charges reduced or dismissed.
A number of criminal violations fall under “sex crimes.” Some of the most common sex crime charges in California include:
- Statutory Rape
- Sexual Battery
- Indecent Exposure
- Lewd Conduct in Public
- Lewd Acts with a Child
The penalties and prison time for a sex crime conviction may depend on the defendant’s criminal history, the age and situation of the victim, the level of force used, and whether the victim was seriously injured.
Rape includes more than just forced sex, it includes any act of sexual intercourse without legal consent. If a person does not consent, or cannot consent due to mental incapacity, or alcohol or drug impairment, sexual intercourse may be considered rape. Under California Penal Code 261, rape is a felony, with a possibility of up to 8 years in prison.
Statutory rape involves sexual intercourse with someone unable to consent due to their age. Consent is not a defense to statutory rape, and it can be prosecuted even if neither of the people involved in sex want to press charges. Under California Penal Code 261.5, statutory rape can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the age of people involved.
Under California Penal Code 243.4, the charge of sexual battery can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony, and involves touching the intimate parts of another person without their consent for sexual arousal. It can include touching over the clothes. If the victim is restrained or incapacitated, the battery can be a felony.
Under California Penal Code 314, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor crime that involves a person who lewdly exposes their body or private parts in any public place, or in a place where others are annoyed or offended.
While some people consider prostitution to be a consensual agreement between adults, under California Penal Code 647(b), it is a crime to solicit sex from a prostitute, to engage in prostitution, or for someone to arrange for sex in exchange for money. Prostitution also includes exchanging sexual services for goods or other services, and is considered a misdemeanor offense.
Lewd Conduct in Public
Lewd conduct involves touching the private parts of oneself or of another person, for the purpose of sexual gratification or to offend. Under California Penal Code 647, lewd conduct is a misdemeanor charge.
Lewd Acts with a Child
Lewd acts on a child is a much more serious charge, and involves any touching that is intended to arouse. It does not have to be touching of an intimate body part, and can be over the clothing. Under California Penal Code 288, lewd acts with a child is a felony, and may require lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Sex Crime Defense Lawyer
Just because the police and courts already treat you as guilty does not mean you have to plead guilty. You have the right to fight the charges against you and have an experienced California criminal defense lawyer stand by you in court. After investigating the individual facts and circumstances in your case, your sex crimes defense attorney will make sure your rights are protected, and fight to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
Under California Penal Code 261, rape involves sexual intercourse that involves fraud, force, threat of violence, retaliation, or lack of legal consent. There are seven separate circumstances described the legal code where sex without consent is considered rape.
To be convicted of rape the following must be true:
- The defendant had sexual intercourse;
- The people involved were not married to each other at the time;
- The other person did not consent to intercourse; and
- The defendant accomplished intercourse:
- With a person who is incapable of giving legal consent because of a mental disorder or physical disability;
- By means of force, violence or fear of bodily injury;
- Where the person is prevented from resisting by alcohol or drugs;
- Where a person was unconscious of the nature of the act;
- Under threat of using a public official to arrest or deport the victim or someone else;
- Under belief that the person committing the act is someone else; or
- Under threat of future retaliation against the victim or another person.
Rape is a felony offense, and punishable by three, six, or eight years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. If the victim is underage, the penalties can be much higher, with up to 13 years in prison for rape of a child under the age of 14. In addition, most rape offenses will require the offender to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration can be a lifetime requirement, with penalties for failing to register every year, and publicly-available websites allow anyone to see the offenders name, face, location, and description of their offense.
A male police officer pulls over a female driver for speeding. The officer finds marijuana and tells the driver that she could be arrested for drug possession. The officer suggests that if they have sex, then he will let her go. If they have sex, then the officer can be charged with rape under duress.
Two college students meet at a party. They decide to go back to one of their dorm rooms where they begin to kiss. They get undressed and start having sex, but the female student changes her mind and decides she doesn’t want to have sex, and pushes him away or tells him to stop. He continues with intercourse after she told him to stop. Because consent can be withdrawn at any time, the student could be charged with rape.
UnderCalifornia Penal Code 261.5, statutory rape is unlawful sex with a minor. It involves sexual intercourse with someone who is unable to consent because of their age. The minors consent to sex is not a defense. Even if the people involved wanted to have sex, and don’t want the other person to be prosecuted, they can still be convicted of statutory rape. The crime and penalties depend on the age of the people involved.
To be convicted of statutory rape the following must be true:
- The defendant had sexual intercourse;
- The people involved were not married to each other at the time; and
- The minor was under the age of 18 at the time of intercourse.
Statutory rape can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the age of people involved. If the two people are not more than three years apart, the crime is a misdemeanor. If the defendant is over 21 and the minor is under the age of 16, it has the potential to either a misdemeanor or a felony, with up to four years in jail. The defendant may also be liable for civil penalties of up to $25,000.
A conviction for statutory rape may also require registration as a sex offender. Sex offender registration can be a lifetime requirement, with penalties for failing to register, and publicly-available websites allow anyone to see the offenders name, face, location, and description of their offense.
A man meets a woman at a bar. The man recognizes the woman as a friend of his 16-year-old sister, and is pretty sure she is the same age, and should not be in a bar. He asks how old she is, and she tells him she is 21-years-old. If they have sex, the man can be charged with statutory rape because he did not have a good faith belief that she was over 18, despite what she told him.
UnderCalifornia Penal Code 243.4, sexual battery involves touching the intimate parts of another person for sexual arousal, without their consent. Intimate touching includes contact over the clothes.
To be convicted of sexual battery the following must be true:
- The defendant touched an intimate part of another person; or
- Caused another person to touch an intimate part of the defendant;
- The touching was done against the other persons will; and
- The touching was done for sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse.
An intimate part includes a persons buttocks, sexual organ, groin, anus or female breast. There are specific provisions for sexual battery where the person is unlawfully restrained or is institutionalized and seriously disabled or incapacitated. There is also a provision for when the defendant fraudulently represented that the intimate touching served a professional purpose.
Sexual battery can be a misdemeanor or felony offense. As a misdemeanor, sexual battery is punishable by a $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail. As a felony, it is punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Additionally, sexual battery can result in sex-offender status. Sex offender registration can be a lifetime requirement, with penalties for failing to register. The public has access to websites which allow anyone to see the offenders name, face, location, and description of their offense.
A nurse at a hospital comes by the room of a patient who is seriously disabled. The nurse fondles the patient’s buttocks for sexual gratification. The nurse may be charged with felony sexual battery.
Under California Penal Code 314, a person who lewdly exposes their body or private parts in any public place, or in a place where others are annoyed or offended, is guilty of indecent exposure.
To be convicted of indecent exposure the following must be true:
- The defendant exposed their genitals in the presence of another person who might be offended or annoyed; and
- Acted lewdly by intending to direct public attention to their genitals for the purpose of offending, sexually arousing or gratifying himself or another person.
There is no requirement that the offended person actually sees the defendants genitals, only that they were exposed. There is a separate provision that applies if the lewd exposure occurred inside an inhabited building.
Indecent exposure is generally a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail. However, a second or subsequent indecent exposure conviction is treated as a felony. Indecent exposure may require the defendant to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration can be a lifetime requirement, with penalties for failing to register every year, and the public has access to searching a website which shows the offenders name, face, location, and description of their offense.
A driver passes by a woman walking down the street, and pulls over to the side of the road. When the woman walks by, the driver pulls down his pants and exposes his genitals, intending to shock the woman. The driver may be charged for indecent exposure.
Under the California Penal Code 647(b), it is a crime to solicit sex from a prostitute, to engage in prostitution, or for someone to arrange a sex for money transaction. Anyone involved in a sex-for-money or services exchange can be charged with a criminal offense.
To be convicted of soliciting a prostitute, the following must be true:
- The defendant requested that another person engage in an act of prostitution; and
- The defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution.
An act of prostitution involves sexual intercourse or a lewd act in exchange for money or other compensation. A lewd act involves touching of the genitals, buttocks or female breasts by the prostitute or the customer.
Police can be involved in sting operations where they pose as prostitute in order to arrest customers, or they pose as customers to arrest prostitutes.
Prostitution is a misdemeanor offense, both for the prostitute and the customer. Additionally, it is a crime for a pimp to receive money from prostitution. Solicitation is punishable by up to six months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. Some police departments also publicize prostitution arrests in the local news, which can be embarrassing and humiliating.
A customer goes to a massage parlor to get a massage. The customer asks the masseuse for a happy-ending in exchange for a bigger tip. If the masseuse provides the service, then both the customer and masseuse can be charged with prostitution.
Lewd Conduct in Public
Under California Penal Code 647(a), lewd conduct in public involves touching the private parts of oneself or of another person, for the purpose of arousal, sexual gratification, or to offend.
To be convicted of lewd conduct in public, the following must be true:
- The defendant willfully engaged in the touching of their own, or another’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast;
- It was done with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify, or to annoy or offend another person;
- It was done in a public place;
- Someone who might have been offended was present; and
- The defendant reasonably should have known that another person who would be offended was present.
It is also a crime to ask another person to engage in what would be considered lewd conduct in public. This is considered soliciting lewd conduct in public.
Lewd conduct in public is a misdemeanor offense, and punishable with up to six months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. The prosecutor may also charge a person with any other additional crimes that may apply, such as indecent exposure or solicitation for prostitution.
A man goes to a known pick-up spot such as an adult bookstore with video booths. Another man in the adult bookstore makes it clear he wants to see the other man’s genitals. What the man doesn’t know is that the other man is an undercover police officer, and after showing his genitals, the man gets arrested for lewd conduct in public.
Lewd Acts with a Child
Under California Penal Code 288(a), lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 is a serious sex offense, and carries a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender. It involves any touching of a child anywhere on their body with the intent to arouse or gratify lust, passions, or sexual desires.
To be convicted of lewd acts with a child, the following must be true:
- The defendant willfully touched any part of a child’s body, either on the bare skin or through the clothing; or
- The defendant willfully caused the child to touch his or her own body, the defendants body, or the body of another;
- The defendant committed the act with the intent of arousing sexual desires of themselves, or of the child; and
- The child was under the age of 14 at the time.
Unlike sexual battery, it does not have to be touching of an intimate body part, and can be over the clothing. Consent of the child is not a defense.
Lewd acts on a child is a felony offense, and punishable by three, six, or eight years in prison. If the lewd act was committed by use of force, violence, duress, or fear of injury, the penalty may include up to 10 years in prison. As with many other sex crimes, a conviction will require the offender to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration can be a lifetime requirement. Penalties can include fines for failing to register and even publicly-available websites which allow anyone to see the offenders name, face, location, and description of their offense.
An adult neighbor tells an 8-year-old girl that she needs to put on sunscreen. He offers to, and proceeds to apply sunscreen to her body, intending to arouse sexual desires. This could be an example of lewd and lascivious acts with a child.