If you've been accused of a sex crime in California, you may be in for a difficult period. The Golden State is renowned for its stringent laws regarding sex crimes and the potential long-term consequences one might face if convicted.
Even if you are acquitted, the charges are dropped, or no charges are even filed, the fact that you were accused of a sex crime can result in substantial adverse impacts on your life—including damage to your personal and professional reputation, job insecurity, and more.
If you are convicted of a sex crime—regardless of guilt or innocence—the repercussions become even more profound. Not only could you face a lengthy prison sentence, but you may have to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years and possibly for life.
For all the reasons listed above, if you're accused of a sex offense, hiring an experienced California sex crimes attorney is critical to protecting your rights and your future.
A sex crimes defense lawyer is an expert in California's unique laws. They will know the legal precedents being used against you and how to use these laws to build the best defense strategy. An expert lawyer will protect your rights and ensure the case proceeds in your best interests.
Hiring an attorney prefiling can make a difference in whether you will face criminal charges. We have successfully overseen the investigation of sex crime cases and were able to prepare a mitigation package and persuade the prosecutor not to file formal criminal charges, called a “DA reject.”
Often, sexual-related cases are investigated for several months. Due to this time delay, when you know that you are under a criminal investigation before charges are filed, it is crucial to retain a sex crimes defense lawyer immediately who can explore the prefiling intervention process.
What Constitutes a Sex Offense in California?
Sex crimes in California cover a broad range of offenses, each associated with severe penalties and societal repercussions. Here are some examples:
- Rape (Penal Code 261 PC)Rape (Penal Code 261 PC)Rape (Penal Code 261 PC): This includes acts of sexual intercourse carried out under certain conditions, such as against a person's will or when a person is incapacitated and incapable of giving consent. In California, the crime of rape also includes date rape and spousal rape, both of which carry equally severe sentences.
- Statutory Rape (Penal Code 261.5 PC): Having consensual sexual intercourse with someone under 18.
- Sexual Battery (Penal Code 243.4 PC): This crime involves touching an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse without the person's consent.
- Child Molestation (Penal Code 288 PC): This involves touching a child under age 14 for sexual purposes and is commonly called lewd acts with a minor.
- Prostitution and Solicitation (Penal Code 647(b) PC): This crime refers to inviting, encouraging, or requesting another person to engage in prostitution—or conversely, engaging directly in prostitution. Both are prosecuted the same under this law.
- Lewd Conduct (Penal Code 647(a) PC): Lewd conduct can involve a range of actions, usually involving sexual acts performed in public places or situations where it might offend others.
- Indecent Exposure (Penal Code 314 PC): This crime involves exposing one's genitals in public, typically intending to alarm or offend others.
- Child Pornography (Penal Code 311 PC): This law criminalizes the possession, distribution, or production of material depicting minors engaged in sexual activity.
- Enticing a Child to Prostitution (Penal Code 266 PC): Soliciting, inducing, or attempting to persuade someone under 18 into engaging in prostitution.
- Unlawful Sexual Intercourse (Penal Code 266c PC): Any act of sexual intercourse that is not entirely consensual by both parties (e.g., fraudulent representation, threats invoking fear).
- Sodomy (Penal Code 286 PC): The act of sodomy (i.e., penile-anal penetration) is a wobbler in certain circumstances, such as when committed against a minor between 14-18 years old, committed in prison, etc.
- Oral Copulation (Penal Code 287 PC): Certain instances of illegal oral copulation are wobblers, including specific cases with minors or in prison.
- Forcible Sexual Penetration (Penal Code 289 PC): Certain forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object cases are wobblers, such as with a minor or someone incapable of consenting.
What is the Severity of California's Sex Crime Laws?
California has some of the toughest laws on sex crimes in the United States. Convictions often lead to severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.
In addition, many sex crimes (though not all) require mandatory registration as a sex offender for at least ten years under Meghan's Law—and some offenses require lifetime registration.
This requirement has far-reaching implications beyond the sentence served: it can significantly impact your ability to find employment, secure housing, and even participate in community activities.
Let's take an example to illustrate this point. Let's say you've been convicted of a sex crime and have served your sentence. Upon release, you'll have to register as a sex offender every year and after every move.
Depending on the crime, you'll have to do this for ten years, 20 years, or for life. This could mean potential employers, landlords, and neighbors can easily access this information, making it difficult for you to reintegrate into society and move on with your life.
Why Hire an Experienced Sex Crimes Attorney?
Although any licensed attorney can defend you in court against criminal charges, if you're facing charges under one or more of California's sex crimes laws, you'll likely be better served by hiring an attorney with specific experience in sex crime defense. Some reasons why:
- Better Understanding of California Sex Crime Laws: The laws surrounding sex crimes in California are complex and require a deep understanding to navigate effectively. An attorney experienced in this field will have the necessary knowledge to interpret these laws and apply them to your case, ensuring all legal avenues are explored.
- Courtroom Experience: A seasoned attorney will have spent countless hours in courtrooms, developing an adeptness for argumentation and negotiation. This experience can be invaluable when presenting your case convincingly before a judge or jury.
- Knowledge of Local Legal Procedures: Every jurisdiction has unique procedures and norms. Hiring a locally experienced attorney ensures familiarity with these specifics, which can help expedite processes and avoid potential pitfalls.
- Relationships with Prosecutors: Experienced defense attorneys often build relationships with prosecutors over the years. While they always maintain professional boundaries, these relationships can sometimes lead to beneficial negotiations or plea deals.
- Mitigating Severe Penalties: Given the potential for severe sentences and sex offender registration, an experienced attorney will know how to fight to reduce these penalties or, in some cases, get charges dropped altogether. Common defense strategies may include reducing wobbler sex offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and plea bargaining for lesser crimes that do not have sex offender registration.
If you are under a criminal investigation or already charged with a sex crime in Los Angeles, contact us for a case review by phone or via the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP has offices in Los Angeles, CA.