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Sex Crimes

Prostitute and John standing next to car

Often the term sex crimes bring thoughts of some of the most serious crimes such as child sexual abuse or rape.  However, California law classifies many crimes as “sex crimes” including indecent exposure, sexual battery, and prostitution. 

 

On this page we will examine some of the most commonly charged sex crimes, the penalties for these crimes, and what defenses or options are available if you’ve been charged with a sex crime.

Most common sex crimes

Below are some of the most common sex crimes that are charged

Sexual Battery (Penal Code section 243.4)

Sexual battery occurs when you touch the intimate part of another person for the purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.  Sexual battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the facts of the case, such as was the victim restrained.  If charged as a misdemeanor, you may receive up to a year in county jail and a fine up to $3,000.  You will also be required to register as a sex offender for ten years. If charged as a felony, the court may subject you to two, three, or four years in state prison.  You may be fined up to $10,000, and you will be placed on the lifetime register for sex offenders.

Date Rape (Penal Code section 261(a))

Date rape is the term often used to describe a rape that occurs between two people who are either dating or spending time together.  Even more, the term date rape is often used to describe a person who was provided an intoxicating substance, such as the “date rape” drug Rohypnol. Under this situation, if you knew the victim was intoxicated or under a controlled substance and the act was against the victim’s will, you may be prosecuted under California’s rape law. A conviction for this crime carries a sentence in state prison of three, six, or eight years.  This is also considered a strike under California’s three strike law. You will also be required to register as a lifetime sex offender.

Rape (Penal Code section 261(a))

Rape involves the act of nonconsensual sexual intercourse with a person through the use of force, fraud, or threats.  The crime of rape can include sex with a person unable to consent due to a mental disorder, intoxication, or unconscious.  A conviction for this crime carries a sentence in state prison of three, six, or eight years.  This is also considered a strike under California’s three strike law. You will also be required to register as a lifetime sex offender.

Failure To Register As A Sex Offender (Penal Code section 290.018(a))

Section 290.018 makes it a crime for failing to register as a sex offender with one of the local agencies.  If you are required to register, you will be required to do so every year within five days of your birthday, and every time that you move.  If you are homeless, you will be required to conduct periodic registrations, typically every thirty days, updating the fact that you are homeless to the agency.

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony to register will depend on the underlying offense for which you were required to register.  If the offense was a misdemeanor, you will be charged as such.  A conviction may result in up to a year in county jail.  If the prior charge is a felony, or if you have a conviction under this section previously, you will be charged with a felony. A conviction as a felony carries a sentence of 16 months, two, or three years in state prison.

Indecent Exposure (Penal Code section 314)

Indecent exposure is the willfully exposing of your genitals to another person that is motivated by a desire for sexual gratification.  This is the crime that is often associated with a person “flashing” another.  If this is a first offense, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor which carries a maximum of six months in jail.  If you are charged with a felony, you may face between 16 months, two, or three years in state prison if convicted.  However, the more devastating part is that for both misdemeanor and felony convictions, you will be required to register as a sex offender.

Prostitution (Penal Code section 647(b))

California’s prostitution law makes it a crime to pay for, offer to engage in, or agrees to engage in an act of prostitution.  Notice from these elements that there is no requirement that the act take place, the mere agreement may be enough to satisfy the elements of the crime.  Prostitution is a misdemeanor in California which carries a maximum jail sentence of six months and a fine up to $1,000.  However, if you are convicted multiple times, the court may impose mandatory jail time based upon which offense you have been convicted of.

*Yes the police can lie to you and often will in order to trap you committing the offense.  Many times people are under the false belief that police must tell you that they are an undercover officer if you ask, that by contacting you they acknowledge they are not a police officer, or that compensation is for time spent with you and not for anything that occurs.  These are false, misleading, and have no legal basis and will not work in a court of law.   

Soliciting A Prostitute (Penal Code section 647(b))

Soliciting a prostitute is similar to the crime of prostitution however, this crime is more focused on the “john” who is seeking out a prostitute.  Prostitution is a misdemeanor in California which carries a maximum jail sentence of six months and a fine up to $1,000.  However, if you are convicted multiple times, the court may impose mandatory jail time based upon which offense you have been convicted of.

Soliciting A Prostitute (Penal Code section 647(b))

As you can see, the penalty for a sex crime is going to greatly depend on whether it is charged as misdemeanor or a felony.  However, conviction of a sex crime carries with it many problematic effects that are often associated with felony convictions but may be imposed regardless.  These can include:

  • Loss of employment

  • Denial of professional license

  • Loss of right to vote

  • Lifetime ban on gun ownership

  • Lifetime registry on sex offender list

  • Ineligible for armed forces

  • Inability to get a conviction expunged

Defenses to sex crimes

One of the most common defenses to sex crimes is that the victim has made a false accusation.  While we would like to believe this doesn’t happen, an Urban Institute study found that wrongful convictions in sex crime cases occurred approximately 11% of the time.  As we’ve seen in the media, celebrities and athletes have been subjected to false accusations by those who either regret their decisions or are seeking their 15 minutes of fame.  In fact, in 2018, a woman from New York was sentenced to a year in county jail for false rape claims against two football players. So the fact is that these false allegations do happen.

 

Other defenses to sex crimes can include showing that the encounter was consensual or that no sexual contact occurred.  In the case of prostitution, it is possible to show that the police engaged in a pattern of entrapment or that there was insufficient evidence for the crime charged.

Accused of a sex crime

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, you need to contact a dedicated defense attorney immediately. Police and prosecutors take these charges very seriously, especially in light of the #metoo movement.  Kevin has personally seen overcharged of insufficient sex cases that are pushed forward out of fear of public opinion.  Contact the Law Office of Kevin Ballard today for a free consultation.