Sex Crimes

A conviction of any sex crime comes with severe penalties and consequences that can significantly affect various aspects of a person’s life. No one wants to be associated as a sex offender, and with that kind of social stigma, you may never get to enjoy good relationships or find a good job for the rest of your life. All sex crimes in California are severe and can leave you serving a long time in jail, paying hefty penalties and registering as a sex offender every year.

Understanding sex crimes and their repercussions as well as how you can fight these charges are essential for anyone facing a sex crime charge. At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we are here to guide and help you through the process of seeking justice, especially when you are wrongfully accused or there is not enough evidence to convict you.

A General View of Sex Crimes

A sex crime is a broad term that is used to refer to several offenses, all involving coerced or illegal sexual acts against another person. Each state in the country has its laws against different types of sex crimes, including sexual assault and rape. Again, every state has its statute of limitations, which is the time limit within which victims of sex crimes are required to file a lawsuit against their offenders.

People who are convicted of sex crimes are usually regarded as sex offenders, regardless of the severity of the offense. They also face having their names included in the federal and state registry for sex offenders.

In the state of California, sex crimes are taken very seriously, and they attract hefty penalties. The penalties could become even more severe if the victim were a minor. Fortunately, there are several legal defenses that the accused can use to fight sex crime charges to avoid heavy penalties. To come up with a good defense plan, it helps to work with a competent criminal defense attorney who will listen to the details of your case and determine the right strategy that will have you acquitted of the charges or have your sentence reduced.

Sex Crimes in California

Several laws in the state of California fall under sex crimes and could include misdemeanors and felonies. Other than the stiff penalties that the offender gets after the conviction, there is also the social stigma, especially if one has to register every year as a sex offender. Among the most serious and the most popular of all sex crimes in the state is rape. Statistics show that about 2,200 attempted rape cases were reported in the year 2014 in Los Angeles alone. Considering that reported cases were not the same as the actual crimes, the number of cases could be higher or lower, depending on certain factors.

It is important to note that some of the reported sexual assault accusations are usually false. Many people have been falsely accused of sex crimes that they did not commit. If you are in this situation, all you need is the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you do not want to deal with an unjust conviction for the rest of your life.

The various sex crimes include:


As provided under Penal Code 261 of California Law, rape is defined as an act of sexual violation in the form of accomplished sexual intercourse performed by a person who is not the victim’s spouse under the following circumstances:

  • The victim was not capable of giving consent because of a developmental, physical or mental disability, and the perpetrator knew this too well

  • The act was accomplished through the use of violence, force, menace, fear of intimidation, coercion or fear of bodily injury, or bodily injury on another person

  • The victim was made incapable of resisting the act through intoxication or use of a controlled or anesthetic substance, with the full knowledge of the perpetrator

  • The victim was unconscious, and the perpetrator was well aware. Their unconscious nature made them incapable of resisting the act.

Rape laws in California make it illegal for any person to have sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of at least one of the participants.

Rape of minor, also called statutory rape is a more severe form of rape since it happens when an adult engages in sexual intercourse with a child (a person of 18 years and below). Note that statutory rape can also be pressed on minors who engage in sexual activities among themselves, and the case will be tried in the Juvenile Justice System. The severity of this offense will depend on the age of the minor and the age difference between the child and the perpetrator. As long as there is proof that an adult engaged in a sexual act with a minor, the adult will be charged with rape since the law provides that a child of 18 years and below is incapable of giving consent. In this case, the prosecutor does not need to prove that the perpetrator threatened, used force or violence or anything unlawful to intimidate the minor into having sex with them.

There is also spousal rape and non-spousal rape. Spousal rape is defined as having sexual intercourse with a person who is a spouse against their consent. Non-spousal rape, on the other hand, will involve an adult who is not a spouse.

Generally, California laws are quite strict on rape offenders. A person found guilty of rape can be sentenced to between three and eight years in state prison. The penalties can be heightened if the victim was a minor of between 7 and 11 years, the victim was a minor of between 9 and 13 years and if the offender collaborated with another person to perform the act. A fine of between $2000 and $25000 is also set for rape offenders, with statutory rape offenders paying a more substantial fine.

Oral Copulation by Force

According to California PC 288a, Oral Copulation by Force is defined as a non-consensual act of contact between a person’s mouth and another person’s anus or genitals. Oral copulation by force is considered illegal if:

  • It is done by force, coercion, violence, threat, menace or fear

  • It happens because one participant is unconscious, intoxicated or in any condition that makes them unable to give consent

Any person that is found guilty of using force, threats, or violence to coerce another person to engage in oral sex with them will be charged with this offense in the state. The elements of this crime are:

  • That oral copulation indeed happened. This means that there was contact between the mouth of one person and the sexual organ of another person

  • That the other person did not give consent

  • That the act was done by force, coercion, fear of getting hurt, fear that another person might get hurt, violence, or threat.

A person could also be charged with oral copulation if they copulated with a person that was too intoxicated to offer resistance, an unconscious person, or a person that is unable to give consent legally maybe because they are a minor, physically or developmentally disabled or mentally disabled.

Oral copulation by force is a felony in California, and so, the penalties are a little bit stiff. If found guilty, the following are possible penalties you could face:

  • Between three and eight years of imprisonment

  • A fine that can go up to $10,000

  • Felony probation but only for persons charged with oral copulation of a disabled person. Cases involving oral intercourse by force or fear of an unconscious or intoxicated person are not included.

If the victim, in this case, is a minor of 18 years and below, things could get worse, and the defendant might get more years in prison. This means that you could get a prison term of between six and ten years in state prison for a minor that is 14 years and above, or up to 12 years for a minor that is below 14 years.

There is also oral copulation by fear or force in concert, which is the crime a person commits if they committed the offense together with another person. The enhanced penalties, in this case, will apply to both the person who personally participated in the act and the person who merely assisted another person to commit the offense. Both parties get the following penalties:

  • A prison sentence of 5, 7 or 9 years if the victim was not a minor

  • A prison sentence of 8, 10 or 12 years if the victim was a 14-year-old and above

  • A prison sentence of 10, 12 or 14 years if the victim was a 14-year-old and younger

Sexual Act with a Child Under 10

Provided under Section 288.7 of California laws, this is a very straightforward law, which makes it illegal for any adult to have sexual intercourse with a minor of 10 years and younger. This is one among the most severely penalized sex crimes in the state. The first part of this law makes it a felony offense for any person that is 18 years and above to participate in sexual acts or to sodomize a child that is ten years or younger. The second part makes it illegal for an adult of 18 years and over to take part in oral intercourse or any form of sexual penetration with a child that is ten years and under.

To be prosecuted for this crime, the following elements must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt:

  • That the defendant was involved in a sexual act of oral copulation, sodomy, sexual penetration or sexual intercourse with a child

  • That the victim was a minor of 10 years and below at the time the act was performed

  • That the defendant was an adult of 18 years and above at the time they performed the act.

California refers to any sex act with a 10-year old or below child as a severe liability crime, which means that the court doesn’t need to ascertain that the accused had any malicious intent at the time they performed the act. Proof that he/she committed the offense is enough for the judge to give a sentence.

Note that this crime is committed by an adult found guilty of committing any of the outlawed acts on the minor, or an adult causing the minor to perform any of the outlawed acts on him/her or themselves. The prohibited acts, in this case, will be:

  1. Sexual intercourse - this involves vaginal penetration by a penis, even if the penetration was only slight. The court does not consider ejaculation as proof to show that the act happened.

  2. Sodomy - this is similar to sexual intercourse, although the point of penetration, in this case, will be the anus. Any sexual penetration into the anus of another person, however slight it might be, with a child of 10 and below, is enough to convict a person with sodomy with a child under 10 offense. Ejaculation is also not required here as proof that the act happened.

  3. Oral copulation - this involves any contact, however minor it might be, between the mouth of a person and the sexual part of the other person. Penetration is not required proof that copulation happened.

  4. Sexual penetration - this happens if an adult person performs an action of penetration, even though slight, on the anal or genital openings of a child by any substance, foreign object, device, instrument or anything else to abuse the child sexually or for his/her sexual gratification. This will also involve bringing the child to penetrate the anal or genital opening of an adult or to make the child penetrate their own anal or genital opening.

  5. Sexual abuse - involving sexual penetration by an adult to injure or cause minor pain or discomfort to the victim

Due to the nature of this crime, any sexual activity with a minor below ten is severely punished in the state of California. The perpetrator may be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison or get a life sentence.

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery, as provided in Section 243.4 of California Statutes, is defined as touching the intimate parts of another person with the intention of abuse, arousal, or sexual gratification without that other person's consent. The private parts, in this case, involve genitals, breasts, or buttocks.

There is the aggravated form of sexual battery too, which meets the above requirements and on top of that:

  • The defendant was found to have unlawfully restrained the victim

  • The victim was institutionalized and needed medical treatment. This could mean that they were medically incapacitated or severely disabled

  • The victim was unaware of the nature of the act itself because the perpetrator represented themselves fraudulently or lied to them that the touch was done on professional or medical grounds

  • The victim was made to touch the intimate parts of the perpetrator, the perpetrator’s accomplice or another person, or even to masturbate against their will

  • The victim was forced to touch the intimate parts of the offender instead of theirs

The touch, in this case, will mean any contact a person makes on their private parts or the intimate parts of their offenders. This can be done directly or through clothing.

The other element of this offense is the intimate part, which could be used to mean the anus, groin, sexual organ, or the buttocks of either of the parties.

The act has to have occurred against the will of the victim. For one to give consent, they must be of legal age, and they must first be aware of the nature of the act and the intentions of the offender and agree to go on with it.

Sexual abuse happens when a person commits sexual battery but with the intention of hurting, intimidating, humiliating, injuring, or causing another person pain.

Unlawful restraint means controlling the freedom of movement of another person through the use of authority, through your actions or words. The restriction must have been done against the victim's will. 

There is also the issue of an accomplice, who was aiding or abetting the offense. The accomplice will be punished legally in the same manner and face the same penalties as the primary offender. One can be accused of being an accomplice to the sexual battery if:

  • They were aware that the primary perpetrator’s actions were unlawful

  • They intended to aid or participate in the act

  • They instigated or encouraged the offender in the commission of the crime

  • They participated in the criminal conspiracy, which is jointly committing the offense with the primary offender.

For misdemeanor sexual battery offenses, the prosecutor will try to prove that you touched the intimate part of another person, against their will for abuse, arousal, or sexual gratification. In this case, none of the aggravating factors above will apply. For this offense, you could get up to 6 months of jail time, with fines of up to $2000. If the crime is a felony, you could get up to 4 years in state prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000.


Prostitution is provided under Section 647(b) of California Statutes, and it entails exchanging sexual favors with money and other valuables. In a prostitution case, both parties involved in the act are liable for criminal charges. Offering sex for cash or soliciting for sex is a criminal offense that is punishable under California laws. Note that one can be charged and convicted of prostitution even if the sexual act was never completed. Another person who can be charged in this case will be any person that is taking part in a prostitution transaction. The middle person who negotiates on behalf of the prostitute and the solicitor is also liable under the law. California statutes make it illegal for any adult person to:

  • Accept money or pay money or any other valuable item or service in exchange for sexual favors

  • Offer to engage in the act of prostitution

  • Agrees to take part in the act of prostitution

A first offender in this crime can get six months in county jail plus a fine of a maximum of $1000. For convictions that follow, the offender will get mandatory days in a county jail, which can go up to 45 days and 90 days for third and above offenders. There is always an additional penalty for offenders who commit the act in a car or if they were within 1000 feet of a residential area. If the offense was committed in a vehicle, the driver gets a suspension on their license for a maximum of 30 days or their license gets restricted for up to six months.

Other Sex Crimes in the State

  • Indecent Exposure as provided under California Penal Code 314

  • Lewd Conduct in Public as provided under Section 647 of California Penal Code

  • Lewd Acts with a Child as under California PC Section 288

  • Statutory Rape as under California PC 261.5

  • Child Pornography as under California States Section 311

  • Spousal Rape as provided under California PC 262

In addition to the penalties provided, the state of California has established a registry of sex offenders. These are the databases that contain information about all convicted sex offenders. People who are convicted of sex crimes that require registration as sex offenders (such as rape) face an additional charge if they fail to register as required.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Sex crimes are treated with seriousness in California, and heavy penalties always accompany sex crime convictions, however minor the offense might seem. The unfortunate part is that so many people are falsely accused of sex crimes in the state, and innocent people end up paying heavily for a crime they did not commit. If this is your situation or the situation of your loved one, you need the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney will do our best to gather enough evidence to fight all the accusations you are facing. Call us at 310-564-2605 if you have been charged with a sex crime in Los Angeles, CA.

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