When facing a sex crime in California, you are in a stressful situation, especially upon a conviction like incarceration in jail or prison, losing civil rights like gun rights, and registering as a sexual offender. If you face a sex crime charge, whether due to a case of mistaken identity, false accusations, or even through some misunderstandings, engage an experienced attorney.

At Koenig Law Office, we know and understand the trauma associated with a sex crime charge, and we, therefore, work hard to ensure you receive the best representation possible. Our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that your rights are respected as you face these charges. This article offers an overview of sex crimes in California to understand your charges and the defense strategies our attorneys will use to defend you.

What Are Sex Crimes In California?

California defines a sex crime as any felony or misdemeanor offense that is sexual, like forcible rape or exposing someone’s private parts in public to annoy or humiliate them.


To give consent, a person must act voluntarily, freely, and be aware of the activity taking place. You should note that a person can give their consent and later on change their mind. If you commit any sexual act when they have declined their permission, you will have committed a sexual crime. A victim can communicate their denial to consent via actual words or acts to the offender. The offender should understand the words or even the actions of the victim mean no permission. If you overlook the actions of a victim even after consenting to a sexual act, you could face a sex crime charge.

Common Types of Sex Crimes

  1. Rape - Penal Code 261

California Penal Code 261 defines rape as the act of engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse or under the various instances. Firstly, when the victim cannot consent due to physical disability or a mental disorder, which is well known to you as the offender, or you should reasonably know.

Secondly, when the sexual act is done against the victim’s will, through force, coercion, violence, or the fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person. Thirdly, is if the victim is intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance. The victim cannot resist, and you know of this fact or should have known.

Another instance is if the victim was unconscious during the act and you were aware of it. Rape could happen if the victim believes you to be someone else due to your cunning nature or pretense and agrees to the sexual activity resulting from this belief. If you perform the sexual act against the victim’s will by threatening them to cause harm to the victim or another person in the future, the victim believes that you can carry out your threat.

You should note that California rape laws define what kind of acts constitutes rape, including:

  • All forms of nonconsensual sexual acts.
  • An offender will be found guilty of rape charges depending on the victim’s feelings and their outrage on the rape itself.
  • All or any sexual penetration, however minor.
Penalties for Rape Crime

The court could convict you based on the victim’s age or if you used a threat to harm them or their loved ones, force, coercion, violence, or menace.

  • Imprisonment of a period ranging from nine (9) to thirteen years if the victim is a minor aged below 14 years.
  • Imprisonment of a period ranging from seven (7) to eleven (11) years if the rape victim is a minor aged over 14 years.
  • Imprisonment of a period ranging from five to nine years if the victim is not a minor.
  • Apart from imprisonment, a rape conviction will ensure you receive a lifetime registration in California as a sex offender.
  1. Rape of a Spouse - Penal Code 262

You are guilty of raping your spouse when you use force, coercion, violence, fear of unlawful bodily injury, threats of harming to accomplish sexual acts against their wish. If the victim is under the influence of drugs and any other substances that intoxicates them, therefore, making it hard for them to resist, you, as the offender, must be aware of the victim’s condition or tell the victim is intoxicated.

You are guilty of rape if the victim was unconscious and you knew, and if the sexual act is committed through threatening to harm the victim or another person in the future. Your victim should believe that you will carry out the threat against them of their loved ones.

Penalties Rape of a Spouse
  • An imprisonment period between three to eight years.
  • Probation
  • Pay $1,000 to a women’s shelter.
  • Reimburse the victim their medical expenses in the form of counseling and consultation fees.
  1. Sodomy - Penal Code Section 286

Sodomy is a sexual offense that involves contact between your penis, as the offender, and the victim’s anus. However slight, if sexual penetration occurs, it gives rise to sufficient ground for a sodomy crime.

Penalties for Sodomy

If facing a sodomy charge, a possible conviction is an imprisonment. The duration of the incarceration will vary depending on the victim’s age and the nature of the sodomy crime. If the victim is below 18 years, imprisonment of up to one year. If the offender is aged above 21 years and the victim below 16 years, the act will be punished as a felony, and a possible punishment is serving in prison between 16 months and three years.

When the victim is below 14 years, and the offender is older by more than ten years, a possible conviction is an imprisonment period ranging from three to eight years. If the crime is against a minor under 14 years, and force, duress, the threat of significant bodily injury is used, then you could be convicted for nine (9) up to 13 years in prison.

  1. Forcible Sexual Penetration - Penal Code 289 PC

A crime of forcible sexual penetration happens under the following instances but is not limited to them:

  • When the act is done by employing force, intimidation, the threat of using the significant bodily injury to the victim or another person, or under duress.
  • When the crime is done against the victim by threatening to harm the victim or another person in the future, the offender will possibly carry out their threat.
  • When the victim cannot consent due to a mental disorder or a disability, the offender is aware of this fact or should have known.
Penalties for Forcible Sexual Penetration

Penalties for forcible penetration depend on the nature of the crime and the age of the victim. If the action took place under the influence of threat, duress, menace, violence, or fear of significant bodily injury to the victim, then a conviction will lead to an imprisonment period ranging from three to eight years if the victim is a non-minor. If the victim is a minor aged below 14 years, the imprisonment period will range from eight to twelve years, and if the minor is above 14 years, imprisonment ranging from six up to ten years.

  1. Oral Copulation - Penal Code 287 PC

According to California Penal Code section 287, oral copulation occurs when you, as the offender, come into contact with the victim’s mouth with your anus or sexual organ without the victim’s consent.  The act of oral copulation occurs where force, duress, threat, violence, or fear of the offender harming the victim or other person is used against the victim.

You will face charges against oral copulation when the following incident takes place.

  1. You orally copulated with a person who was unable to resist due to intoxication.
  2. You orally copulated with an unconscious person.
  3. You orally copulated with someone who has a mental disorder and cannot legally give you consent due to a disability or a mental condition.
Penalties for Oral Copulation

The penalty for oral copulation will depend on the nature of the crime and the victim’s age. Your age, as the offender, will also have a significant effect. When the victim is a minor aged below 18 years, the sentence will lead up to one year in prison. When the victim is a minor aged below 16 years, and the offender is aged over 21 years, the crime is convicted as a felony with a sentence ranging from 16 months to three years. When the victim is aged below 14 years and is more than ten years younger than the offender, the act is punishable by an imprisonment period ranging from three to eight years.

If the act is committed against a minor aged below 14 years by the use or threat of significant bodily injury to the minor or another person, coercion, violence. In that case, the punishment is imprisonment ranging from 6- 10 years. The worst part about receiving a conviction for oral copulation by force is California’s requirement that you register every year with the state as a sex offender. Failure will lead to felony charges added to your record.

  1. Sexual Battery - Penal Code section 243.4

California treats sexual battery as a sexual offense under Penal Code section 243.4, and it happens under various circumstances. These circumstances include when an offender touches an intimate part of a victim against their will while restraining the victim. This touching is for sexual gratification or arousal or sexual abuse. When touching the private parts of someone undergoing medical treatment or medically incapable or disabled, the touching should be against the victim’s will, sexual abuse, sexual gratification, or even sexual arousal.

If you as an offender touches an intimate part of a victim with the sole intention of sexually arousing them, for sexual abuse or sexual gratification, and during this time, the victim is unconscious and is unaware of what the offender is doing since the offender intentionally represented the touching to be for professional purpose.  And when you cause the victim to touch their intimate parts, your private parts or those of another person to arouse sexually, have sexual gratification, or for sexual abuse. This situation mostly happens where you have restrained the victim, or your accomplices are restraining them.

Possible Penalties for Sexual Battery

You could face a felony or a misdemeanor sexual battery charge, depending on the nature of the crime. If charged with a misdemeanor, where the victim was unconscious, restrained, or seriously disabled, you could serve one year in county jail, and a fine of $2,000, the penalty may rise to $3,000 if the offender was a person with authority over the victim like an employer.

As a felony, the sentence ranges from one year in county jail, and sometimes you may receive up to four years in state prison with a fine ranging from $2,000 but does not exceed $10,000. When you have a previous felony conviction for sexual battery and your victim is a minor, you will face imprisonment of up to four years and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Other types of sex crimes include date rape, indecent exposure, prostitution, child pornography, and lewd conduct.

What Happens Once you Receive a Sexual Crime Conviction in California?

Once you are convicted for a sexual offense, you could serve time in jail or prison. Apart from this, you must register as a California sex offender for life.

  • You will also have to disclose your conviction to potential employers while applying for employment.
  • Lose your right to have a professional license.
  • You can never serve in the armed forces.
  • Your rights to vote may be suspended.
  • You may lose the right to hold a public office.
  • You are disqualified from serving in the jury service.
  • You will lose some civil rights like gun ownership.

It will be near impossible to have the record expunged in California.

Legal Defenses against Sex Crimes

Some of the most common defenses against a sex crime are that you were falsely accused, sexual contact didn’t take place, or the sexual act was consensual. Your criminal attorney could also argue that the evidence against you is insufficient, you honestly believed that your accuser gave their consent, or yours is a case of mistaken identity.

What to do If Facing a Sex Offense in California

Sex crime in California is a serious offense. If you face sex crime charges, it is essential to hire a qualified attorney immediately who will help you fight to retain your rights. With an experienced attorney at your side, you will have a chance to; have your sentence reduced, help you make a plea bargain, and sometimes have the charges against you dismissed.

What the Prosecution Must Prove for a Sex Crime Conviction

For you to be convicted for a sex crime in California, the prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  • You, as the offender, touched the accuser or the victim’s private parts, and this can happen if you or your accomplice restrained the victim. It doesn’t matter whether you touched the victim through their clothing or via direct skin contact.
  • You touched the victim against their will. The prosecution must prove that the victim did not consent to the contact.
  • Your intention in touching the victim was for sexual gratification, sexual abuse, or sexual arousal. If the touch or contact were for other reasons like medical purposes, it would be difficult for the prosecution to prove otherwise.
  • You committed sexual intercourse with your accuser.
  • For a rape charge, you were not married at the time the act took place.
  • Your accuser or the victim did give consent to the touching or to have sexual intercourse.
  • You accomplished the sexual offense by using the following:
  • Duress/ coercion —Duress/coercion means that you use threats to make someone into having sex with you.
  • Force — When you apply force on a person, you overcame this person’s will by physical force to commit a sex crime.
  • Fraud —It means the use of deceit to influence someone to have sex with you.
  • Retribution —You use the fear of revenge or payback to make someone have sex with you.
  • Fear of significant bodily injury —It requires you to cause the other person to be afraid.
  • Menace
  • Violence

Contact a Bakersfield Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When you face charges for a sexual offense, you must take the necessary steps immediately, as it is a severe crime. California prosecutes sex crimes harshly, and if you are accused of these crimes, you will not only tarnish your name even before you are found guilty but also face ridicule. Unfortunately, most people face sex crime allegations due to false accusations or mistaken identities.

Sex crimes are serious offenses, and the prosecutor will seek to have the harshest penalties preferred. For these reasons, you should hire an attorney who has the experience and the resources to defend you against your charges. At Koenig Law Office, our criminal defense lawyers many years of experience with handling sex crime cases.  Kindly contact us at 661-793-7222 for consultation on your case.