Sex crimes in California are often prosecuted under sexual assault and sexual battery laws. These laws make it a crime to touch another person's intimate part without their consent. As the law defines, intimate parts include sexual organs, buttocks, groin, anus, and females' breasts. A sexual crime conviction is stressful and has severe consequences. Consequences for sexual crimes include imprisonment, loss of certain civil rights like gun rights, and registration as a sex offender.  If you or a loved one faces sex crimes charges, you should contact an attorney immediately. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have experienced attorneys who will evaluate your case and help you create a defense to fight the charges. 

Types of Sex Crimes in California

A sex crime may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature of the crime. Sex crimes include everything from grabbing a person's genitals in public to forcible sexual penetration or rape.  Some of the common sex crimes in California include:

Sexual Abuse of a Child

The California PC 288.5 outlines the crime of continuous sexual abuse of a child. You may face charges under PC 288.5 if you sexually abuse a child for three instances or more over three months or a more extended period. For the prosecutor to accuse you of this crime, they have to prove several elements:

  • You lived in the same home or premises with the minor or had direct and recurring contact with the child.
  • You engaged in three or more sexual acts with the minor.
  • The period between the first and the last sexual abuse is three months.
  • At the time you committed the sexual acts, the child was below 14 years.

Sexual conduct entails masturbation or oral copulation of the minor or the perpetrator. Sexual acts also include penetrating the child's vagina or rectum. The penetration may be with the perpetrator's sexual organ or a foreign object.

Oral copulation is the contact between a person's mouth and another person's sexual organs or anus. Oral copulation charges apply even if the contact is slight.  A violation of PC 288.5 is a felony under California law. The possible consequences for the offense include imprisonment for 16 years in state prison.

A conviction under PC 288.5 will add a strike to your record accord to the Three Strikes law in California. You might have to register as a sex offender after a conviction of a child's continuous sexual abuse. 

What are some of the defenses that you can use to fight a conviction under PC 288.5? With the help of your criminal defense attorney, you can point out that:

  • The victim was not a minor (under 14 years) at the time the sexual act took place.
  • Your contact with the child was not sexual.
  • You are a victim of false accusations.

Indecent Exposure

According to the California PC 314, indecent exposure involves willfully or intentionally exposing your genitals or a naked body to another person who would be annoyed or offended by it. The prosecutor has to prove several elements of the crime:

  • You intentionally or willfully exposed your genital.s
  • You were in the presence of a person who would be annoyed or offended by your actions.
  • You intended to draw public attention to your genitals to gratify yourself or another individual sexually by exposing yourself. You may also have exposed your genitals to offend another person.

Indecent exposure charges may apply if a woman reveals her breasts in public to impress her boyfriend. The charges may also apply if a male stands at a street corner and flashes his genitals to females as they pass by for sexual gratification. Similar charges may also apply to a teenage boy who exposes his genitals to older women to offend them.

A first time violation of PC 314 is a misdemeanor offense. For a first time conviction of indecent exposure, the consequences include a jail time of up to six months. Other penalties include fines of up to $1,000 and 10-year registration as a sex offender.

Under certain circumstances, you may be guilty of aggravated indecent exposure. You'll face aggravated indecent exposure charges if you expose yourself in an inhabited home, building, or trailer. The prosecutor must prove that you entered the home, building, or trailer without the owner's consent.  Aggravated indecent exposure is a wobbler offense, chargeable as either a felony or a misdemeanor.  If the prosecutor charges you with misdemeanor indecent exposure, you'll face similar charges as normal indecent exposure.

For a felony aggravated indecent exposure, the charges include imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, two years, or three years. The court may order you to pay a fine of up to $10,000. You may also have to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Lewd Acts with a Minor

The California PC 288 outlines the crime of lewd acts with a minor, also known as child molestation. A conviction under PC 288 is a felony offense. The crime involves any lascivious or lewd act on the body of a child below 14 years. The act's intent could be gratifying or arousing the lust of the child, perpetrator, or another person. You may face charges under PC 288(a) if you intentionally touch a child's body or cause a child to touch their body, your body, or another person's body.

To touch a child's body or genitals in a willful manner means that you acted on purpose. It means that the touch was not accidental but intentional. It is difficult for the prosecutor to prove that you had a sexual intent while touching the minor. Some of the factors that the judge might consider while determining whether you had sexual intent include:

  • The context in which you touched the minor
  • Whether you and the minor know each other
  • The type or the nature of the touching
  • Whether you have an innocent explanation

The penalties for a conviction under PC 288 vary depending on the victim's age. The court will also consider whether you used threats or force when committing the act. The penalties will also vary depending on your criminal history.

If the child was below 14 years at the time you committed the crime, the violation of PC 288 is a felony. If you did not use force while committing the crime, the penalties include imprisonment for 3, 6, or 8 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. At times, the court may recommend probation and jail time in county jail. However, the crime is still a felony even if you don't serve time in prison.

If you used force, threats, duress, or violence while carrying out lewd acts with a minor, you would face charges under PC 288(b) (1). The penalties include imprisonment for 5,8, or 10 years in state prison. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $10,000. 

Oral Copulation by Fear or Force

According to the California PC 287, oral copulation by fear or force is a non-consensual contact between a person's mouth and another individual's anus or genitals. The activity might have occurred through coercion, duress, violence, menace, threats, or fear. The act may also have happened when one person was intoxicated, unconscious, or unable to give legal consent.  The prosecutor has to prove the following to charge you under PC 287:

  • There was physical contact between a person's mouth and another person's genitals or anus, even if the contact was slight.
  • The touch occurred without the victim's consent.
  • The touch was using violence, force, duress, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.

The prosecutor may also charge you under PC 287 if you committed oral copulation by fear or force on:

  • A person who was too intoxicated to resist
  • A person who was unconscious and unaware of the nature of the act
  • The victim who can't give consent due to a developmental, mental, or physical ability

A conviction under PC 287 is a felony under California law. The penalties for the offense include:

  • A formal or felony probation
  • Imprisonment in state prison for 3, 6, or 8 years in a state prison
  • A fine not exceeding $10,000

If the victim of the crime is a minor below 18 years, you will face enhanced imprisonment. You will face imprisonment for six, eight, or ten years in prison if the victim is 14 years or older. If the victim is below 14 years, you will face imprisonment of eight, ten, or twelve years in prison.

You'll face increased penalties if you commit a violation under PC 287 in concert with another individual. The increased penalties will vary depending on whether you took part in the oral copulation personally or you just abetted or aided the perpetrator. If the victim is not a minor, the penalties for oral copulation by fear or force are five, seven, or nine years in prison. If the victim is less than 18 years but more than 14 years, the penalties include eight, ten, or twelve years imprisonment in state prison. If the victim is a minor below 14 years, the penalties will include imprisonment for ten, twelve, or fourteen years in prison. 

California Rape Crime

According to the California PC 261, rape entails using force, fraud, or threats of force to have non-consensual intercourse with another individual who is not your spouse.  Rape is a felony under California law, punishable by imprisonment and hefty fines. For the prosecutor to accuse you of rape, they must prove that:

  • You engaged in intercourse with another individual.
  • You and the victim were not married at the time of committing the crime.
  • The victim did not consent to the sexual intercourse.
  • You committed the crime through force, duress, violence, menace, fear of bodily injury, retribution, or fraud.

The prosecutor must prove that the victim was alive at the time of rape for you to be guilty under PC 261. Sexual intercourse refers to any form of penetration, even if the penetration of the vagina by the penis, even if the sexual penetration was slight. Ejaculation is not a requirement for you to be guilty of rape. 

You can only face rape charges if the victim did not consent to sexual intercourse.  For a person to have consented to rape, they must have acted freely, voluntarily, and must have understood the nature of the act. A victim might have consented to the sexual intercourse but later changed their mind during the act and no longer consent. In this case, the prosecutor might charge you with rape if:

  • The victim communicated their lack of consent to you in words or actions.
  • A reasonable individual would have understood that the victim's words or actions indicated no consent.
  • You forcibly continue with the intercourse despite the victim's objection.

It's worth noting that a victim does not have to resist physically or to fight back for them to communicate a lack of consent.  According to the law, some people don't have the capacity of consenting to sexual intercourse:

  • A person who is too drunk or intoxicated to consent
  • Persons with mental disorders
  • An unconscious person

If you engage in sexual intercourse with a person who isn't in a position to give consent, you'll face rape charges automatically. 

Sexual Battery or Assault

The California PC 243.4 outlines the crime of sexual battery, also known as sexual assault. You might face charges under PC 243.4 if you touch the intimate parts of another person without their consent for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. The violation of PC 243.4 may either be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the case's facts. 

Unlike rape crime under PC 261, sexual battery does not require the offender to have engaged in sexual intercourse or penetration with the victim.  Defendants may also face aggravated sexual assault under PC 243.4. Aggravated sexual assault charges may apply if:

  • There's an unlawful restraint of the victim by the perpetrator or another person.
  • Sexual assault on a victim institutionalized for medical treatment, severely disabled, or medically incapacitated
  • The victim did not understand the act's nature because the crime perpetrator tricked the victim that the contact/touch was a professional purpose.
  • The crime victim was forced to masturbate or touch the perpetrator's intimate parts or another person's intimate parts.

For misdemeanor sexual battery/assault, the applicable charges include:

  • A jail time of up to six months in a county jail
  • A fine not exceeding $2,000 — The fine may go up to $3,000 if the victim is your worker.
  • Misdemeanor probation

If the court recommends probation, you have to adhere to the set probation conditions. Probation conditions may include community service, completing a batterer's program, and taking part in programs for people with compulsion and sexual abuse issues. 

For felony sexual battery/assault, the penalties include:

  • A formal or felony probation
  • Imprisonment of two, three, or four years in a California state prison
  • Imprisonment for three to five years in state prison if the victim sustained bodily injury
  • A fine that does not exceed $10,000
  • Lifetime registration as a sexual offender

Statutory Rape

According to California PC 261.5, you may face statutory rape charges if you engage in unlawful sex with a minor below 18 years to whom you are unmarried, even if consent or the minor initiated the sex. Statutory rape is a wobbler and may attract felony or misdemeanor charges.  The prosecutor must prove three elements to accuse you of statutory rape:

  • You had sexual intercourse with another individual even if you only engaged in a slight penetration.
  • You and the person involved in sexual intercourse are not married.
  • At the time of the act, the victim was below 18 years.

For the crime of statutory rape, the prosecutor does not have to prove that you used force for you to face charges. The prosecutor doesn't need to prove whether the victim consented to the intercourse or not. The prosecutor only needs to prove that one of the parties involved in sexual intercourse is below 18 years.

Three circumstances will determine whether the prosecutor charges the crime of statutory rape as a felony or misdemeanor:

  • If the defendant is less than three years older than the alleged victim, the violation of PC 261.5 is a misdemeanor.
  • If the defendant is more than three years older than the victim, the crime is a wobbler.
  • If the defendant is 21 or older, and the victim is below 16 at the time of sexual intercourse, the crime is a wobbler but highly likely to be charged as a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor crime, the penalties of statutory rape include:

  • Misdemeanor or informal probation
  • A jail time not exceeding one year in a county jail
  • A fine not exceeding $ 1,000

For a felony conviction of statutory rape, the penalties include:

  • Probation, either a misdemeanor or felony and a jail time not exceeding one year
  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years imprisonment
  • If the defendant was 21 years or older, and the victim was less than 16 years at the time of the crime, the penalties include two, three, or four years imprisonment.
  • A fine not exceeding $ 10,000

Child Pornography

California PC 311 makes child pornography illegal in California. This statute prohibits people from sending, transporting, duplicating, printing, possessing, and advertising child pornography.  It is also a crime to hire or persuade a minor to engage in the production of pornographic imagery.

The law defines child pornography as any material or matter that depicts sexual involvement or conduct by a person below 18 years. Pornographic material may include materials like photographs, films, videotapes, or computer-generated equipment. The materials may portray a minor engaging in sexual conduct like oral copulation, sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, and masturbation.  

According to the law, a material is pornographic if the content depicted in it is obscene.  Material is obscene if it offensively portrays sexual conduct, and a reasonable individual would conclude that the material lacks valid literary, political, artistic, or scientific value. Material is obscene if a reasonable person would conclude that it has a prurient interest. What is a prurient interest? It's a morbid or shameful interest in sex, nudity, or erection. 

Child pornography is a wobbler meaning it's either a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include a jail time of up to one year in county jail. Other penalties include fines starting from $1,000 to $ 2,500. If it's a felony crime, child pornography is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding three years.  For a child pornography conviction, the defendant has to register as a sex offender. 

A child pornography conviction may have adverse immigration implications.  If you are a non-citizen, a conviction under PC 311 might lead to deportation because it's a crime of moral turpitude.

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

According to California law PC 290, a sex offender may face charges for failing to register with the local authorities as a sex offender.  The law requires sex offenders to register once every year within five days and must register within five days of their birthday. A sex offender must also register afresh upon moving to a new location. You are a sex offender if you have a conviction in one of the sex crimes outlined under PC 290. Some of the crimes outlined under PC 290 include sexual battery, rape, and indecent exposure, among others. A person residing in California must register as a sex offender with the law enforcement authorities in the city where they reside. 

The crime of failing to register as a sex offender might be a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor failure to register as a sex offender is punishable by a jail time of up to one year in county jail. If convicted as a felony, the crime is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding three years in county jail. 

A conviction under PC 290 may not have adverse immigration implications but may affect your gun rights adversely.  You may have a conviction under PC 290 expunged if you complete probation or jail time successfully.

Find a Riverside Sex Crime Defense Attorney Near Me

If you or a loved one faces charges for sex crimes in California, you should not despair. With so many applicable legal defenses, your attorney will help you choose the most ideal defense for your case. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we will walk with you from the arrest, represent you in court, and help you create the best defense for your charges. Contact us at 951-946-6366 and talk to one of our attorneys.