Defining “Sex Crimes” Under The California Penal Code (CPC)
In California, crimes involving sexual activity (and crimes of a sexual nature) are called “sex crimes.” Sex crimes can be Misdemeanors or Felonies, depending on the law and the facts of each case. Remember, the State considers all sex crimes to be serious offenses which deserve investigation and/or court action.
Common Sex Crimes Under The CPC
There're several common sex crimes in California. Among the most frequently encountered are:
Child Sexual Abuse (CPC § [Section] 288.5(a)) – Child Sexual Abuse occurs when anyone having access to a minor commits three or more sexual, lewd, or lascivious acts with the minor. At least three months must pass between the ﬁrst and last acts and the minor must be under the age of fourteen at the time.
Date Rape (CPC §261(a)) – Rape is “an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person” who isn't married to the rapist. Force is usually, though not always, involved. The difference between this and other forms is that there's usually a personal relationship between the rapist and victim in “date rape.”
Failure To Register As A Sex Offender (CPC §290.018(a)) – When a person is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act (§290) “based on a misdemeanor conviction or juvenile adjudication” and “willfully violates any requirement,” that person is guilty of Failing To Register As A Sex Offender.
Indecent Exposure (CPC §314) – Indecent Exposure occurs when anyone exposes his or her genitals in the presence of someone who might be offended or annoyed and intends to direct public attention to the genitals for sexual pleasure or offense.
Lewd Acts With A Child (CPC §288(a)) – Lewd Acts With A Child occurs when anyone touches a part of a child's body, or gets a child to touch his or her own body (or someone else's), on bare skin or through clothing. The touching has to be for sexual purposes and the child has to be under the age of fourteen.
Lewd Conduct (CPC §647(a)) – Lewd Conduct occurs when anyone touches genitals, buttocks, or the (female) breast for sexual pleasure or offense in a place open to public view. Someone who might be offended has to be present and you have to know (or at least reasonably should know) that as fact.
Oral Copulation By Force Or Fear (CPC §288(a), (b)(1)) – Oral Copulation By Force Or Fear involves oral copulation accomplished through force or by fear of threats to hurt, arrest, or deport the other person.
Possession Of Child Pornography (CPC §311.1(a)) – Possession Of Child Pornography involves importing or possessing child pornography for sale or distribution. To be illegal, the material must involve a minor under eighteen, it must offend statewide standards of decency and you must know there's a minor in it.
Prostitution (CPC §647(b)(1)) – California's law against Prostitution applies whenever anyone agrees to engage in an act of prostitution with someone else. To violate the law, you have to have both intend on prostituting yourself and do something to commit the act.
Rape (CPC §261(a)) – Rape involves sex with someone who isn't your spouse at the time. It usually occurs by force or fear of injury to the victim (or someone else). There are several forms, including rape of an unconscious person, rape of a person with a disorder and rape of a person who's intoxicated.
Sexual Battery (CPC §243.4) – Sexual Battery occurs when anyone touches an intimate part of another person's body for sexual gratiﬁcation or abuse against that person's will. There are multiple forms of Sexual Battery, including Battery by those who falsely claim to touch for professional reasons.
Soliciting A Prostitute (CPC §647(b)) – Soliciting A Prostitute is similar to the crime of Prostitution (see above), the major difference being that the defendant has to request that another person engage in prostitution and the other person has to receive the request.
CPC Penalties For Commission Of A Sex Crime
A sex crime conviction in California involves several possible consequences. First is the possibility of a jail sentence. Statutory law says that Misdemeanor terms will be served in a county jail. Felony sentences are to be served in state prison. Additionally, Misdemeanors can carry fines of as much as $1,000 (unless statute calls for a different amount), and Felonies can involve fines that're significantly higher. It's also possible to receive both a jail sentence and a fine, in many instances.
Conviction of a sex crime may also require that you register as a Sex Offender under CPC §290. The law, known as the Sex Offender Registration Act, may require that you disclose your name and case history to government officials and update your personal information (including, in some cases, you address) for publication in a publicly-available Sex Offenders' list. If you're obligated to register, make sure you go to the “Megan's Law” website (California Megan's Law Website). Remember: As of 2021 there will be new offender registration requirements. Senate Bill 384 creates a three-tiered system. Tier 1 adult offenders will have to register for at least ten years; Tier 3 offenders will be required to register for their lifetimes.
Perhaps most problematic for those convicted of sex crimes in California are the effects associated with Felony convictions. A Felony conviction in California can result in:
- Denial of employment;
- Denial of a professional license;
- Suspension of your right to vote;
- Ineligibility to serve in the armed forces;
- Disqualification from jury service;
- Disqualification from the right to hold public office;
- Denial of conviction record expungement; and,
- A lifetime ban on gun ownership.
Common Defenses To Sex Crimes Charges In California
Below are six of the most common defenses to sex crimes charges in California.
- The Sex Act Was Consensual;
- There's Insufficient Evidence To Support The Charge;
- The Accusation Is False;
- There Was A Mistake In Witness Identification;
- There Was No Actual Sexual Contact; and,
- You Reasonably Believed That The Alleged Victim Consented.
What Can I Do If I'm Charged With A Sex Crime In California?
The State of California regards sex crimes as serious offenses. If you're charged with a sex crime, it's essential that you retain a skilled, dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your rights, freedom, and livelihood are at stake.
Remember, a professional criminal defense attorney may be able to:
- Negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain;
- Reduce your sentence;
- Or even get charges dismissed completely.
The attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group have an excellent understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California's criminal justice system. We can represent you in Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena and many other Southern California cities.
If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a sex crime, our attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and plan a defense strategy that will help you obtain the best possible outcome.
 See CPC §261(a)(1)-(3),(5)-(7).
 See CPC §243.4.