Consensual sexual activity between adults is generally not a crime. However, when there is any force, threat of force, or the inability to consent, sexual activity can be considered assault. Even between married couples. Sexual assault includes a number of criminal acts, depending on the specifics of the alleged assault. This could include sexual battery, sexual penetration, rape, and unlawful sexual abuse of a minor. Under California law, there is not a specific crime of sexual assault. It is often punished under other statutes such as sexual battery (PC 243.4) which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the seriousness of the alleged assaultive behavior.
Sexual Assault by Force, Fear or Threats
Rape, oral copulation, sodomy, and sexual penetration involving force, fear, or threats is a crime under California law. This includes sexual acts by violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury to the victim or someone else. It could include future threats of harm, such as threats to retaliate against the victim or another person in the future. It also includes threats of an alleged public official to arrest or deport someone. Prosecutors often punish threats made during an assault as a separate offense known as Criminal Threats, a violation of Penal Code 422.
It is illegal to deprive another person of their personal liberty. This can occur when a person is coerced into perform services (including sexual services or more traditional labor services). This is considered false imprisonment of another, or human trafficking. For the purposes of this crime, coercion is not defined only as using physical force, but can also include any scheme, pattern, intended to cause a person to believe that failing to perform an act would result in that person experiencing serious harm or physical restraint as a result of refusal.
Penalties for false imprisonment depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. The penalty can be more severe if the offense includes particular types of threats of violence to the victim.
Sexual Assault on an Intoxicated or Unconscious Person
Sexual activity on an intoxicated or unconscious person is a crime. This occurs when an intoxicated person is not able to resist the sexual activity, and the defendant knew or should have known person is intoxicated or unable to resist. Additionally, if a person is unconscious, they will be unable to resist the sexual act.
Sexual Assault on a Disabled Person
Under California law, it is a crime to engage in sexual activity with a person with a mental, physical, or developmental disability that prevents them from legally consenting. The defendant has to know or reasonably should know that the person had a disability which prevents them from consenting. A person who cannot legally consent is not able to understand the sexual act, its nature and consequences.
Penalties for sexual assault are severe, and will depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. This includes what level of force was used, if there were injuries, the nature of any injuries, the age of the victim, and the relation between the accused and victim. Penalties include years in prison, and heavy fines. In addition, a person could face civil charges with significant money damages.
Sex Offender Registration
In addition to the penalties noted, a person may be also be forced to register as a sex offender. If you are required to register as a sex offender, it will follow you for the rest of your life. You will be required to register with the police, or your college or university. Any time you move, you will again be required to register as a sex offender while living, attending school, or working in California.
Defenses to Sexual Assault
Sex crime laws in California are complex, and possible defenses depend on the specific facts of the case. A qualified legal team who specializes in defense of sex crimes will look into the facts of each case to determine how best to form their legal strategy. This could include arguing that the individual consented to the sexual activity, that the activity never occurred, or that the alleged victim is mistaken as to the identity of the assailant.
Contact the offices of White Goldstein to speak with an attorney who specializes in defending people accused of sexual assault. We will provide you or your loved one with superior legal representation. We are dedicated to giving our clients the highest level of service. We will thoroughly investigate the charges you or your loved one face and will tirelessly work to have them dismissed.
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Call White Goldstein today at (310) 295-1810 for a free, confidential consultation.