In California, it is no secret that sex offenders face an uphill battle. California takes sex crimes very seriously and the courts will severely punish those convicted in such cases. Fines, jail time, a record as a sex offender, are all possible consequences of a conviction. Mandatory registration in a sex offender registry is also a serious result of a conviction. This means your personal information will be made available for public view through databases such as the California Megan’s Law website. It also means that your personal and professional reputation can be ruined with just one criminal sex crime conviction.
Sex Crimes in California
The Law Offices of Taylor & Taylor represents clients across Southern California who are accused of:
- Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (statutory rape)
- Sexual battery
- Lewd or lascivious conduct with a child
- Child pornography
- Indecent exposure
- Pandering and prostitution offenses
- Procuring minors for prostitution
- Failing to register as a sex offender
- All other sex offenses
California law has several variations of the crimes listed above. Penalties may depend upon whether the alleged victim was young, elderly, dependent, or otherwise vulnerable. Some law enhancement penalties may also be applied depending upon the alleged victim’s occupation or public position.
California law defines rape in multiple ways. The most common rape accusations involve an act of sexual intercourse under one of the following circumstances:
- The alleged victim did not consent to intercourse but submitted in response to force or threats.
- The alleged victim was incapable of consenting because of a physical or mental disability.
- The alleged victim was asleep or unconscious.
- The alleged victim could not resist due to intoxication or drug use.
- Consent was obtained by fraud.
“Sexual intercourse” is defined as penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or genitalia by the penis. If consent is withdrawn and the withdrawal of consent is communicated, the failure to end the act of intercourse promptly constitutes rape.
Defenses to rape often focus on the credibility of the accuser and on the accuser’s motive for fabricating a story about being raped. In appropriate cases, the accused has a defense if he or she did not know and should not reasonably have known that the alleged victim was asleep, unconscious, intoxicated, or disabled.
A misdemeanor charge of sexual battery requires proof that the accused touched an “intimate part” of another person without that person’s consent for the purpose of sexual gratification and/or arousal. “Intimate parts” are generally defined as sex organs, buttocks, or female breasts.
A felony charge of sexual battery requires proof that the accused unlawfully restrained another person and, while that person was restrained, either touched an “intimate part” of that person without consent or caused that person to unwillingly touch an “intimate part” of the accused. Restraint can be accomplished through force, threats, or the assertion of authority.
It should be noted that accidental touching does not constitute sexual battery. Whether the touching was deliberate or accidental is sometimes the focus of a defense. In other cases, the defense focuses on whether the touching actually occurred, whether consent was given, or (in felony cases) whether the alleged victim was restrained.
The offense of rape can be committed against an adult or a minor. The penalties are more severe when the victim is a minor.
The crime people typically think of as “statutory rape” is commonly known as “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” in California. Sexual intercourse is “unlawful” when the accused is not married to the minor.
The primary difference between “rape” and “statutory rape” is consent. An adult can consent to have sex. A minor cannot. It is, therefore, a violation of California law to have sexual intercourse with a minor outside of a marital relationship. The crime can be committed without using force. Even if the minor initiates the sexual intercourse, it is still a crime.
Statutory rape is a misdemeanor if the accused and the alleged victim were no more than three years apart in age. If the alleged victim was more than three years younger than the accused, the crime is a felony. The crime is a more serious felony if the minor had not reached the age of 16 and the accused was at least 21 years old.
A good faith belief that the alleged victim was at least 18 years old can be (and often is) a defense to the charge. If the alleged victim lied about her age and/or could reasonably be mistaken for an adult, mistaken of age could be the best defense to the charge.
“Consent” Defined Under California Law
In sex crime cases where consent is in question, consent is defined as “positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will” (California Penal Code section 261.6). Consent does not include any one or combination of the following factors:
- The accused used a condom or other birth control device.
- The victim complied with the act to avoid possible injury or death.
- The victim didn’t resist the attack.
- The accused and the victim are or had been dating.
Internet Sex Crimes
With the advancements in technology, online sex crimes are a growing area of concern for prosecutors. These crimes often involve prostitution, indecent exposure & lewd conduct, child pornography, and solicitation of minors for child abuse. An internet offender can be prosecuted under state and federal law.
Megan’s Law & Sex Offender Registration
Under California’s Megan’s Law, the names of convicted sex offenders can be viewed on the California government website www.meganslaw.ca.gov. This allows the general public to view information on sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement. However, approximately 25% of registered sex offenders are excluded from this public disclosure by law as it is based on the type of sex crime for which the person is required to register.
Sex Crime Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
Being convicted of a sex crime is a life changer. The penalties for sex crime offenses are harsh and usually come with long prison sentences as well as mandatory lifetime sex registration. Many sex cases are prosecuted even though there is a lack of physical evidence coupled with poor quality law enforcement investigations. In fact, many sex crime cases are prosecuted on the sole basis of the victim’s testimony such that the case is essentially a she said, he said, situation.