Facing Sex Offense Charges in California
Being charged with a sexual offense under California law can be catastrophic to the defendant. The penalties if found guilty can include lengthy stints in a state prison. Some sex offenders even have to register their address and report to authorities any time they move for the rest of their lives. This information is available to the general public, and effectively labels the convicted as a sex offender.
Even false accusations can lead to irreparable harm in a person’s career and personal life. Having the case dismissed as quickly as possible or being acquitted of the charges is key in saving one’s reputation after accusations of a sex crime.
How Does California Law Define Rape?
California Penal Code Section 261 defines rape as non-consensual intercourse done through threats, force, or fraud. To convict you of rape, a prosecutor must prove:
- THAT THERE WAS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE BETWEEN YOU AND ANOTHER PERSON
- THAT YOU WERE NOT MARRIED TO THE ALLEGED VICTIM (THIS WOULD FALL UNDER “SPOUSAL RAPE,” A SEPARATE CRIME)
- THAT THE INTERCOURSE WAS DONE AGAINST THE WILL OF THE OTHER PERSON
- YOU ACCOMPLISHED THE ACT OF INTERCOURSE THROUGH THREATS, FORCE, FEAR, OR FRAUD
Rape is a felony charge. If convicted, you will face up to 8 years in California state prison, with the possibility of an additional 3 to 5 years added on to your sentence if the alleged victim sustained great bodily injury. You will also face up to a $10,000 fine, having to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290, and a strike on your criminal record pursuant to California’s three strikes law.
California Penal Code Section 261.5 defines statutory rape as when a person has sexual intercourse with a person who is under the age of 18. To convict you of statutory rape, a prosecutor must prove:
- THAT THERE WAS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE BETWEEN YOU AND ANOTHER PERSON
- THAT YOU WERE NOT MARRIED TO THE ALLEGED VICTIM
- THAT THE ALLEGED VICTIM WAS UNDER THE AGE OF 18
Note that a prosecutor does not need to prove that you accomplished the intercourse through force, fear, or fraud.
In California, statutory rape can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are no more than 3 years older than the alleged victim, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. If you are more than 3 years older than the alleged victim, or if you are 21 or older and the alleged victim is under 16, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will face up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. If you are convicted of a felony, you will face up to 4 years in California state prison and a $10,000 fine. While you do not need to have used force to be convicted of statutory rape, if you did use force and inflicted great bodily injury upon the alleged victim, you will face up to an additional 5 years in California state prison. Note that civil penalties up to $25,000 may also be imposed on you.
California Penal Code Section 262 covers the crime of spousal rape. Spousal rape occurs when there is nonconsensual intercourse between a man or woman and their spouse. In order to convict you of spousal rape, a prosecutor must prove the same elements of rape as described above, the exception being that you must have been married to the alleged victim at the time of the act. The punishment you may face if convicted of spousal rape is essentially the same as described above for rape.
Let Us Help You
If you are facing a rape charge, it is essential that you have skilled representation. An experienced, diligent, and aggressive criminal law attorney can help you achieve a favorable result in your case. Our clients will benefit from the knowledge and experience of Grant Bettencourt and all of the attorneys in our office.
Our firm will work with you to determine the best course of action for your case. Don’t face this stressful time on your own. Get an attorney that will walk you step by step through the process. Call The Law Offices of Grant Bettencourt for a consultation today.
What is Sexual Battery and Sexual Assault Under California Law?
In addition to rape, there are several other sex crimes as defined by California law. Among the most common are sexual battery and sexual assault. Sexual battery and sexual assault offenses are outlined under California Penal Code 243.4. These laws are used to indict a person who cannot be indicted for other charges because all of the required elements cannot be fulfilled or proven. In some cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to have a more serious sex crime charge reduced to sexual assault.
The statute against sexual assault and battery in California outlaws all unwanted touching of another person in a sexual manner, or for the purposed of arousal, sexual gratification or abuse. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the circumstances of the case.
A misdemeanor sexual assault or battery conviction can lead to up to six months to a year in county jail and a fine of $2,000 to $3,000. A felony conviction for these crimes may subject the guilty party to as many as four years in the California state prison system as well as fines of up to $10,000.
How is Child Molestation Charged in California?
Lewd and lascivious acts charges are sometimes known as child molestation, although this charge can include a variety of act with a large number of variables that vary from what we often think of as an overt act of child molestation. In most cases, an offense under the lewd and lascivious acts laws involves accusations of touching a minor on their sexual organs. In some cases, though, it could include touching the child through clothing or even folding areas of the child that are not typically associated with sexual acts. Because of the number of actions that may constitute this type of offense, the sentence for a conviction for lewd and lascivious acts depends heavily on the circumstances of each individual case.
What is the Sex Offender Registry?
California has laws in place that created and maintain a register of convicted sex offenders who live in the state. This allows anyone to conduct a simple Internet search and learn if any of their neighbors, coworkers or others have previously been convicted of a serious sex offense.
California Penal Code 290 outlines the rules surrounding lifetime registration of convicted sex offenders. Even an expungement cannot release a person from this duty once they have been convicted of an offense that calls for registration. Any time a convicted offender moves, he or she must update the address listed in the registry. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions for sex crimes are subject to registration under California law.
How Can a Sex Offenses Lawyer Help?
Being convicted of a sex offense in California can have a major negative impact for the rest of a person’s life. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney who can diligently and aggressively build a strong defense is paramount in limiting the damage done by these accusations.
At The Law Offices of Grant Bettencourt, we have the expertise you need to feel confident that every possible option will be exhausted in order to protect your future. Call us today at (925) 788-7178 or fill out the consultation form now so we can speak confidentially about your case.