If facing sex crime in Orange County, you should find a criminal lawyer to defend you in court aggressively. California courts prosecute sex crimes vigorously, and if found guilty, possible punishment is harsh. A competent defense lawyer will not rest until you achieve a positive outcome, including lowered or dismissed charges.
At Orange County Criminal Defense Team, we help build a solid defense to fight your sex crime charges. Sex crime charges that we have immense experience fighting against are statutory rape, child molestation, prostitution, and many more. If facing any of these sex crime charges, you don’t want to navigate the California justice system alone. Contact us today, and we will help you maneuver.
What are Sex Crimes
Various offenses fall into the sex crimes category. Many of these involve forces or illegal sexual activity against someone else. This particular article covers sex crime laws, possible punishment, and defense strategies you could use to fight the charges.
Types of Sex Crimes
Rape, Penal Code 261 PC
California PC 261 defines and punishes the crime of rape. Rape involves using fraud, threats of force, or force to have non-consensual sexual intercourse with someone else. In California, rape is considered a felony, and upon conviction, you could serve not more than eight years in state prison. Per Megan’s Law, you are required to register as a sex offender for life.
The statute details the acts that constitute rape, including having non-consensual sex with another person while:
- They are unconscious during the act.
- They are intoxicated. One cannot consent to sex when intoxicated.
- They have a mental disorder. One cannot consent to sex when having a mental disorder.
- They are under duress or when you use violence or force to have intercourse with them.
Examples of instances that constitute rape are having intercourse with a mentally disabled woman, threatening to kill a woman if they resisted having sex with you, and frightening a man into having intercourse with you by threatening to hurt her relatives.
Defenses to Rape
As a rape suspect, you could challenge allegations against you with solid defenses, including:
- False accusation
- No intercourse occurred
- The plaintiff consented to sex
Possible Penalties for Rape
California PC 264 is the statute that penalizes rape crime. In California, a PC 261 is a felony. If found guilty, possible sentencing includes:
- Formal or felony probation.
- Imprisonment in state prison for a period not exceeding eight years.
Statutory Rape, California Penal Code 261.5 PC
California PC 261.5 is the statute that describes the crime of statutory rape. The crime occurs when someone else, irrespective of their age, has sex with a minor. Under California law, a minor refers to anyone under the age of 18. You face charges for a PC 216.5 violation even if the minor consented to sex or they initiated the act.
In California, statutory rape is a wobbler. That means that you could be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor. However, the law exempts you from facing charges where you and the minor in question are legally married at the time of sexual intercourse. Per California law, the legal consent age is 18 years. Unlike many other states, California has no Romeo and Juliet law nor close-in-age exception.
Today, teenagers are engaging in sexual activities. That means PC 261.5 violations are rampant, and the odds of law-abiding citizens facing charges remain high. Below are examples of situations that could be considered statutory rape:
- A high school couple has been dating for three years, engaging in sex when the boy is 18 and the girl is 16 years old.
- A university professor aged 35 has a sexual encounter with a teenage girl aged 17, who doubles as his student.
- A senior-high-school female student aged 19 has sexual contact with another male student aged 16 years.
Like other offenses, someone else could accuse you of statutory rape out of anger, misunderstanding, revenge, and jealousy. Wrongful arrests, mistaken identity, or false accusations result in many statutory rape prosecutions.
Penalties and punishment for Rape
In California, statutory rape is a wobbler, meaning the prosecution has the jurisdiction to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony. The prosecutor makes the decision depending on factors, including the defendant and minor’s age difference. If you are aged 21 or older, and the victim is aged 16 or below, possible sentencing could be severe. Upon conviction, you serve in prison for not more than four years in state prison.
Legal Defenses to Statutory Rape
Seeking help from a criminal defense lawyer, especially one who defends against sex-crime charges, could increase your chances of having the charges reduced or dropped. A reliable lawyer understands the legal defenses that could help have your charges dismissed.
Examples of legal defenses include:
- Sexual intercourse did not take place.
- You had a reasonable belief that the victim was over 18 years.
Sexual Battery, California PC 243.4
California PC 243.4 is the law that punishes sexual battery. Also referred to as sexual assault in some circumstances, you commit the crime when you touch someone else’s private parts without their consent. The prosecution must prove that you committed the act with the aim of abuse, arousal, and sexual gratification.
Sexual battery is a wobbler. So, the prosecution could charge you with a felony or misdemeanor. If found guilty, you could serve up to four years in prison or jail. You could be convicted for a felony offense if:
- you illegally restrained the plaintiff.
- You forced the victim to masturbate or touch your private parts or those of someone else.
- You institutionalized a seriously disable or medically incapacitated victim.
- Your plaintiff did not know of the act’s nature as you convinced them that you are touching them for professional purposes, including physical therapy and medical treatment.
You could be convicted of a misdemeanor offense if:
- You convinced institutionalized mentally ill patients to masturbate in front of you.
- As a male therapist, you convinced your patient that they should allow you to caress their bare breast to overcome their sexual inhibitions.
- You held someone else down while you unzipped their pants and placed your hands inside their underwear.
Legal Defenses to Sexual Battery
Legal defenses that you could use if facing sexual battery charges include:
- False accusations
- Lack of enough evidence
- There was consent
Penalties and Sentencing for Sexual Battery
If facing a misdemeanor sexual battery charge, you could face a jail term of six months or one year. You could also pay a fine of not more than $2,000. The court decides on your jail term depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. If your victim was an employee, you could pay a fine of up to $3,000.
Upon conviction of a felony sexual battery crime, you could serve in jail for two, three, or four years in state prison. You could also be fined an amount of up to $10,000.
Apart from the penalties mentioned above, you are required to register as a sex offender for both felony and misdemeanor convictions. If convicted for a misdemeanor, you register as a tier-one sex offender for atleast ten years. For a felony conviction, you are required to register as a tier-three sex offender for a lifetime.
Indecent Exposure, California PC 314
California PC 314 describes indecent exposure crime. You violate PC 314 when you willfully expose your private parts or nakedness to someone else to offend or annoy them. California prosecutes PC 314 violation as a misdemeanor. If convicted, you face jail time for up to 6 months. You are also required to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Because PC 314 is wide and, at the same time, vague, it could comprise acts that do not seem as offenses. You might even feel like your rights are violated when facing indecent exposure charges.
Interestingly, the California judiciary system has not amended the statute despite the dynamic societal norms changing every sunrise. Examples of conducts that could be considered a PC 134 violations include:
- As a teenage boy, you expose your genitals to people in a public place to offend them.
- As an adult female, you stand on a street corner while flashing your private parts to male passersby for arousal.
- As a female, exposing your breasts while fondling them in a crowded lounge to gratify your spouse sexually.
Penalties and Punishment for Indecent Exposure
Even though indecent exposure seems like a light crime, you could suffer severe consequences if convicted. Often than not, a first PC 134 violation subjects you to misdemeanor punishment. You could serve time in jail for up to six months or pay a fine not below $1,000. If you commit a second incident exposure, you could be charged with a felony offense. Possible punishment for the felony offense if serving time in state prison.
In addition to the penalties mentioned above, indecent exposure conviction could subject you to sex offender registration. You are required to register as a tier-one sex offender for not less than ten years. The 10-year registration was reduced from the previous lifetime registration, thanks to the California Senate Bill 384.
Legal Defenses to Indecent Exposure
You want to hire a defense lawyer who understands various ways of defending indecent exposure charges. Your attorney could present several defenses to have the charges dismissed or lowered. These legal defenses could include:
- You were a mistaken identity victim.
- You did not know that the present parties could be offended.
- You did not commit the crime.
Prostitution/ Solicitation, California PC 647(b)
California PC 647(b) prohibits anyone from being involved in or soliciting prostitution. Solicitation involves paying or accepting any amount, property, or valuable items in return for sexual intercourse. Prostitution law applies to clients and prostitutes. In California, prostitution is a misdemeanor offense and attracts a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine not exceeding $1000.
Prostitution and Solicitation Law Applies to Customers and Prostitutes
Per California law, it is considered an “act of prostitutioon” when a customer and a prostitute are involved in sexual acts or lewd acts. In California, customers are commonly referred to as “johns,” while the middlemen who link prostitutes to johns are known as “pimps.”
If you are a pimp, law enforcers could arrest you for violating:
- California PC 653.23 - the statute that prohibits supervising or aiding a prostitute.
- California PCs 266(h) and 266(i) - the statutes that prohibit pimping and pandering.
Examples of acts that could constitute prostitution include:
- As a law enforcer, you accept a sex offer from a woman, and in return, you don’t write her a traffic ticket.
- As a woman, you let a man fondle your breasts, and in return, he offers you cash.
- As a man, you offer a woman drugs in exchange for a blow job.
You are guilty of the offense even if the person you are offering money for sex in return is not a prostitute.
Penalties for Prostitution/ Solicitation
Soliciting and prostitution are charged as misdemeanors.
Upon conviction for a first solicitation or prostitution crime, possible punishment include:
- A fine of not more than $1,000
- A jail term of not more than six months
Because prostitution is a priorable offense, the court increases your penalties with every subsequent conviction. For examples:
- You serve a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 45 days upon conviction of a second prostitution offense.
- You serve a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 90 days upon conviction of a third or subsequent crime.
Punishment for Committing Prostitution in a Car
Customers and prostitutes alike could receive additional punishment if the accused were near a residence by 1,000 feet or less or they were in a car when committing the act. If found guilty, possible penalties could be driver’s license restriction for not more than six months or driver’s license suspension for not over 30 days.
No Mandatory Sex Offender Registration
A conviction for California PC 647(b) violation does not automatically trigger sex offender registration. But the court has the power to order you to register when the offense happened after sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification. Note that prostitution convicts are hardly ordered to register as sex offenders in California.
Legal Defenses to Solicitation/ Prostitution
Every solicitation and prostitution case is unique. However, legal defenses you could use in these cases are:
- Mistake of fact
- Insufficient evidence
- A case of police entrapment
- Lack of intent to prostitute
Lewd Conduct in Public
In California, PC 647(a) is the statute that punishes the crime of lewd conduct in public. You commit the crime when you touch your own or someone else's private parts, female breasts, buttocks, for sexual gratification when people who could be offended are present. California law considers PC 647(a) as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, you could spend time in a county jail for up to 6 months or pay a fine of not over $1,000.
The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed this offense for sexual gratification or to offend/ annoy someone else. Also, per California law, private parts refer to female breasts, buttocks, and genitals.
Note that California law does not prohibit sexual activity in public. The only time the act becomes a PC 647(a) violation is when you know that someone else could be offended when they watch your actions.
Penalties and Sentencing for Lewd or Dissolute Conduct in Public
As mentioned above, lewd conduct in public is a misdemeanor. If the judge finds you guilty, they could sentence you to 6 months in jail or order you to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000. Many times, the court reduces this offense to lesser charges. Therefore, the odds are that you could be posted to misdemeanor probation without a jail term.
As of now, you do not need to register as a sex offender if convicted for a PC 647(a) violation. However, the prosecution could charge the offense together with indecent exposure.
Undercover Sting Operations
Many lewd conduct arrests occur during undercover sting operations. Law enforcers could clad in civilian clothes and pose as gay men in lavatories, adult magazine shops, and pubic parks. Then, the undercover police could bait you into sexual activity. You immediately face arrest when you propose sexual contact, masturbate, or expose your private parts. These instances often amount to cases of police entrapment.
Manby suspects arrested during sting operations do not engage in lewd conduct. Often than not, the defendants only make eye contact with the decoy officer. Law enforcers could attempt to exaggerate and lie to make it appear as something substantial occurred. If you find yourself in such a circumstance, you want to hire a criminal lawyer to help you with fighting the allegations.
Legal Defenses to PC 647(a) Allegations
You could use various defense tactics to fight your charges. Examples of these defenses are:
- The police engaged in other misconduct, or it was a case of police entrapment.
- You did not engage in sexual activity in a public place.
- You had a reasonable belief that you would not offend anyone present.
- You did not touch your private parts for sexual gratification.
- You did not touch someone else’s genitals.
Lewd Acts with A Child
Lewd and lascivious acts with a minor are currently referred to as child molestation. The crime is described under California PC 288. The statute prohibits the touching of a child/ minor below 14 years for sexual purposes. The prosecution charges child molestation as a felony. Upon conviction, you could serve time in state prison for three, six, or eight years.
According to California law, a lewd act refers to:
- Making a minor touch themself or another person for purposes of sexual gratification.
- Touching a minor for sexual purposes.
Child molestation charges are applicable if the victim is below 16 years. However, many cases involve minors below the age of 14. That said, the offense is commonly referred to as:
- Acts of lascivious and lewd conduct
- Lewd acts on a minor under 14
- Lewd acts with a child under 14
Constituents of Child Molestation
Before your conviction, the prosecution must show that you touched or fondled a minor’s private part. You could also face charges for lascivious acts even though:
- The minor did not do the touching.
- You touched the minor while they had clothes on.
- You did not touch the child specifically on their private part.
The law does not require that actual arousal occur even if you intended to arouse yourself, the minor, or someone else. Examples of lascivious acts on a minor are:
- You kiss a minor’s inner thighs while you are babysitting them for sexual purposes.
- As a 6th-grade tutor, you touch a pupil’s breasts through her clothes.
- You make your 9-year-old step-son touch your private part with clothes on.
Penalties and Punishment for Lewd Acts On a Child
The court sentences you depending on the case’s circumstances, for instance:
- Whether the minor is below 14 years.
- Your age.
- If patterns of lewd acts existed.
- Whether you committed the lewd acts through threats, duress, violence, or force.
- The minor’s age during the time of the crime.
Below are circumstances under which you could be found guilty of lewd acts on a minor and possible punishment:
- California PC 288 (a) — you violate this statute if the minor is under 14 years, but you did not use force. Possible sentencing includes serving time in prison for three, six, or eight years, being posted to felony probation, or paying a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- California PC 288 (b)(1) — you violate this statute if the minor is under 14 years, but you used force. The judge could imprison you for five, eight, or ten years. They could also order you to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- California PCs 288(i) and 12022.8 — you violate this statute if the minor is under 14 years, and cause severe bodily harm to them. You are sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty.
- California PC 288(c)(1) — you violate this statute if the minor is 14 or 15 years, and you, the defendant, are ten years older than the child. If found guilty, you could serve time in prison for one, two, or three years. The court could also order you to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000. You could also be sentenced to one year in jail and pay a fine not exceeding $1,000.
- California PC 667.71(b) — you violate this statute if you are considered a habitual sex offender. If found guilty, possible punishment is serving time in prison for 25 years.
- California PC 288 (b)(2) — you violate this statute if you are a guardian or caretaker who forces a lewd act on a child. A conviction attracts five, eight, or ten years in state prison. The court could instead fine you an amount, not more than $10,000.
Find an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If facing a California sex crime, seek a defense lawyer’s help immediately. Whether you are falsely accused or committed a one-time error, leaving your future to chance is not worth the risk. At Orange County Criminal Defense Team, we have represented defendants facing various sex crime charges in Orange County. We offer a confidential and cost-free consultation to review your case and offer quality legal counsel. Contact us today at 714-467-2772 to schedule an appointment.