California law is strict on sex offenders. A conviction for a sex crime has severe and life-changing consequences. The court will impose a lengthy prison sentence, fines, and sex offender registration. Your penalties will be more severe when you commit a sex crime against a child.
However, these punishments are not enough to deter some offenders from committing these heinous crimes after their release. Therefore, in cases where repeat offenders face serious charges, the state could mandate chemical or surgical castration. Chemical castration is a procedure that involves injection with a birth control hormone to reduce the sexual drive in habitual sex offenders.
Many states have adopted this practice with the belief that it guarantees public safety from sex offenders who are out of custody. If you face a repeat offense sex crime charge, you will require the guidance of a skilled attorney to fight the charges and avoid chemical and surgical castration. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we offer legal guidance and representation for all our clients battling sex crime charges in California.
Understanding Chemical and Surgical Castration in California
Sex crimes are met with extreme outrage, especially when the case involves a minor. Most communities seek vengeance against the perpetrator. The harm from a sex offense can stick with a victim for a lifetime. The forceful sexual acts could affect their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
For victims of sex crimes and their families, life imprisonment does not seem enough to punish the perpetrator of the act. California is known for its strict sex crime laws. Therefore, a guilty verdict for any sex crime will be met with harsh penalties. In recent years, California has adopted chemical and surgical castration for repeat sex offenders.
Repeat offenders are individuals who commit similar or related offenses even after a conviction and attempts at rehabilitation. Chemical castration is done through the injection of Gonadotrophin-releasing Hormone or Luteinizing hormone. This treatment reduces testosterone levels in the body and reduces uncontrolled sexual urges.
California law mandates chemical castration for the following groups of offenders:
Repeat Sex Offenders
When a person commits a sex crime, they may not be able to escape prison or jail time. Depending on the nature of the crime, the court may send the offender to jail or prison. The length of your incarceration will depend on the specific statute you violated and the crime's circumstances.
The court sends sex offenders to jail or prison with the intention of rehabilitating them. Unfortunately, some offenders will return to society and commit a similar or related offense. If you face charges for a sex crime and you have a prior conviction on your record, the court could mandate chemical castration.
Offenders Who Molest Children Under 13 years
Minors are a vulnerable group in society. A child may not understand the nature of a sexual act and cannot defend themselves. This makes minors more susceptible to sexual abuse. When you face a sex crime charge, the severity of your penalties is based on the victim's age. Common sex crimes against children include:
- Lewd and lascivious acts with a child. California law makes it a crime to engage in sexual contact with a child. If your sexual intentions are clear, you can be convicted for lewd conduct with a child.
- Molesting or annoying a child. Under the California Penal Code, it is a crime to annoy or molest a child under eighteen. Any conduct that could irritate a child will suffice as molestation. The court will find you guilty of your acts motivated by sexual interest in the minor.
- Oral copulation with a minor. You could be arrested and charged under California PC 288 for engaging in oral sex with a child.
- Statutory rape. In California, the age of consent for sex is eighteen years. Therefore, engaging in sexual intercourse with a child under thirteen years of age is a crime. If you have a prior conviction for statutory rape or another sex offense, the court could mandate chemical castration as punishment for your offense.
- Continuous child sexual abuse. California PC 288.5 defines continuous sexual abuse of a child as engaging in three or more sexual acts with a child.
If you face a second conviction for a sex crime against a child under 13 years old, it could result in chemical castration. Additionally, the treatment may be necessary for offenders who use force or fear to engage in these acts with minors.
Unless a sex crime results in the victim’s death, an offender will face a prison sentence with the possibility of parole after serving a specific time behind bars. Parole is not automatic, and you must undergo scrutiny by the board. Prosecutors and victims of sexual abuse are not thrilled when a sex offender is up for parole. Therefore, the release may be contested heavily.
If you are successfully paroled after a conviction for repeat sex crime charges, the court will mandate that you begin chemical castration. The process continues until the Department of Corrections determines that the injections are unnecessary. If you do not agree with chemical castration, you risk spending the rest of your life behind bars.
Voluntary Surgical Castration of Sex Offenders
Chemical castration involves injecting drugs that reduce testosterone and lower sexual urges. In most cases, chemical castration is mandated by the court, and the procedure is reversible. When the corrections department determines the injections are unnecessary, your body can slowly return to normal.
Surgical castration, on the other hand, involves the removal of testicles. Surgical castration is irreversible and is left as a choice for the sex offender. If you are a repeat sex offender and you want to avoid spending an indefinite amount of time behind bars, you can choose to undergo this type of castration. Voluntary surgical castration of a sex offender increases their chances of release.
Before you voluntarily undergo surgical castration in California, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be at least twenty-one years old.
- You have been convicted of multiple sex offenses.
- You have undergone up to eighteen months of sex offender treatment and chemical castration.
These requirements aim to ensure that the offender can make an informed decision on the effects of this procedure. Although surgical castration is a minimally invasive procedure, it can have devastating effects on a person’s body. Additionally, the mental component associated with decreased testosterone levels in the body could have worse effects.
Effects of Chemical and surgical castration
Not all individuals sitting behind bars for sex crimes are guilty of the alleged crimes. Some people are victims of false allegations, mistaken identifications, and coerced confessions, among other prosecutorial errors. Unfortunately, even when chemical castration is stopped, you could face the following long-term effects of the treatment:
- Osteoporosis. Injection with a female birth control drug can cause an imbalance in your hormones. Therefore, you could suffer from osteoporosis years after the treatment is stopped. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones, making them weaker and thinner.
- Depression. Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness, anger, and despair. When an individual undergoes chemical castration, the resulting hormonal imbalance can result in depression.
- Infertility. Chemical castration for sexual offenders aims at reducing sexual urges. Although the procedure is reversible, different people react differently to the treatment. Therefore, you could suffer from infertility in the future.
Chemical Castration and Wrongful Convictions
One of the most significant issues surrounding the castration of offenders is punishing individuals for crimes they did not commit. The effects of castration can affect you for a lifetime. Therefore, the consequences can be difficult to accept when you are innocent.
The risk of wrongful castration is limited. This is because the state requires at least two sex crime convictions before proceeding with surgical and chemical castration. However, it is not entirely impossible. Most sex crime cases, especially those involving minors, attract sympathy from society, the prosecutors, and the court.
The need to hold someone accountable for the crime could blind the jury into wrongfully convicting you. Additionally, most of these cases are built on victim testimony. Children are easy to manipulate and coach. Therefore, their testimony may carry more weight in the case, resulting in a wrongful conviction and punishment.
If you face charges for a repeat sex offense, castration is a likely punishment. Therefore, it is critical that you hire and retain a reliable lawyer to help you beat the charges. Depending on the facts of your case and the statute under which you are charged, you can build a strong defense and avoid harsh consequences like castration.
Criticism and Controversy Surrounding Castration for Sex Offenders
Although California was the first state to adopt chemical castration to protect society from repeat offenders, the law has undergone extreme criticism. Many people believe that castration is an unusual and cruel punishment. The most obvious argument is that the punishment goes against the offender’s constitutional rights.
Some of the organizations that criticize castration argue that the rights to equal protection under the law and the offender's right to privacy are not considered during the punishment. Under the Eighth Commandment of the United States Constitution, individuals facing criminal charges have the right to be free from cruel and inhuman punishment.
After a conviction, the offender is still protected by the Constitution. Most people who contest chemical castration challenge the punishment under federal civil rights. If you can successfully avoid chemical castration, you may spend a lengthy time behind bars. Although the effects of chemical castration last as long as the treatment continues, the treatment can have more severe long-term effects on the individual.
Another angle of criticism comes from medical experts who are not convinced that castration is an effective way to stop sex crimes. This is because some offenders can counter the effects of hormone treatment with over-the-counter testosterone boosters. Most people who undergo chemical castration will regain their sexual function when the treatment ends.
For more aggressive sex offenders, surgical castration may be more suitable. However, this will only work for offenders who are motivated by their sexual desires. Sex offenders whose criminal acts are motivated by drug use, sadism, or lack of consciousness would not benefit from the treatment.
Additional Consequences of a Sex Crime Conviction
In California, castration is one of the many consequences of a sex offense conviction. Often, the court will have tried other ways to rehabilitate you. Chemical and surgical castration is one of the last results to ensure the safety of other people in society after a release. Additional punishments for sex offenders include:
Sex crimes are mostly serious and violent. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will escape incarceration after a conviction in California. A sex crime can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the statute you violated. Misdemeanor convictions often result in jail time, while felonies result in prison time.
When the sex offense you committed is serious, you risk spending the rest of your life behind bars. Incarceration is not easy for anyone. You will miss out on spending time with your family while you are in prison. Additionally, you could lose your job.
For some offenses, you can avoid incarceration by serving probation. This allows you to spend a portion of your sentence out of jail. The court is keen on community safety when sentencing an offender to probation. Since most sex offenders are considered dangerous to others, the court will rarely impose probation for a sex crime.
For sex crimes involving children, the seriousness of your punishment will depend on the victim's age. Often, offenders who commit sex crimes against children under fourteen years old often receive the harshest penalties. Additionally, having prior sex crime convictions is detrimental to your situation.
If you want to avoid spending an indefinite time behind bars after a repeat sex offense conviction, you may be required to undergo chemical castration. This lowers your sexual urges and protects other people.
In addition to jail time, the court can impose hefty fines for defendants found guilty of sex crimes. The fines you face after your conviction range from $1,000 for misdemeanors to $10,000 for felonies. The payment of fines can strain your financial life and leave your family struggling.
Sex crimes cause serious pain and suffering to the victims. After your conviction and punishment, the victim and their family can file a personal injury lawsuit against you. If you are convicted in criminal court, it is easy for the victim to win a civil lawsuit.
If the victim’s lawsuit against you is successful, the court will order that you compensate them for the losses and injuries resulting from your wrongful action. If a victim of a sex crime dies during the commission of a sex offense, their family can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Sex Offender Registration
Besides chemical castration, sex offender registration is another consequence of a sex offense conviction that can impact your life forever. Registering as a sex offender involves presenting your documents to the local law enforcement offices and updating the information whenever you change residence.
After the passing of Senate Bill 384, there are now three levels of the sex offender registry:
- Tier I. If you commit less severe sex offenses like indecent exposure or sexual battery, the court will require you to remain in the sex offender registry for up to ten years.
- Tier II. For defendants convicted of sex crimes like rape. Lewd conduct with a child and penetration with a foreign object, the minimum period of sex offender registry is twenty years.
- Tier III. The Tier III sex offender registry is reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes. Offenses that fall under this category include child sex trafficking or murder during the commission of a sex act. With this registration level, your name remains in the registry for your lifetime.
You fulfill your duty to register as a sex offender by providing your primary address within five working days of your release from custody. The following information about sex offenders is available to the public online:
- Identification information.
- The sex crime that prompted the registration.
- Date of your release from incarceration.
- Year of your conviction.
People may view you differently after discovering that you are a registered sex offender. This can impact your personal and professional relationships. Your name remains in the sex offender registry until the time imposed by the court elapses. If the court imposes a lifetime sex offender registration, you can have your name removed from the registry by seeking a certificate of rehabilitation or a governor’s pardon.
For convicted sex offenders, the sex offender registry is mandatory. Failure to register as a sex offender or renew your information can result in an arrest and criminal charges under California PC 290. You could face a jail sentence if you are found guilty of failing to register. Additionally, the court may increase the period for your registration.
Do I have to register as a sex offender after chemical castration?
Chemical castration is the most severe punishment for repeat sex offenders. However, this punishment is different from sex offender registration. Chemical and surgical castration are aimed at reducing the sexual urges of the offender before their release to society.
Even after castration, you must still register as a sex offender. Registering as a sex offender notifies the public of the threat you pose to their safety.
The consequences of a sex offense conviction do not end when you pay your fines and complete your prison sentence. The conviction will go on your criminal record. Criminal convictions can be accessed by anyone who performs a background check on you. Some ways your sex offense conviction can impact your life include:
- Challenge of obtaining employment. In California, you must disclose your criminal convictions to your potential employer. You are protected from discrimination based on race, gender, or religion. However, employers can deny you a job because of your conviction. One of the reasons why employers can deny you a job is to ensure the safety of other employees.
- Loss of a professional license. Working in some professions, like being a doctor, pharmacist, social worker, or nurse, requires obtaining and maintaining your professional license. Professional bodies will require you to report any criminal convictions before and after obtaining the license. A conviction for a sex offense could attract a suspension or revocation of your professional license. This will impact your livelihood.
- You cannot hold public office. Most serious sex offenses attract felony convictions. If you are a convicted felon in California, you cannot hold public office.
- Immigration consequences. Some sex crimes are violent felonies. If you are an immigrant, a conviction for a felony sex offense can impact your immigration status. After your conviction, you could be deported or rendered inadmissible.
Find a Competent Defense Lawyer Near Me
Chemical and surgical castration is one of the most serious consequences of a sex crime conviction in California. The impact of sex crimes on the victims makes these offenses very serious. California law is often strict with repeat sex offenders. Being a repeat offender indicates your disregard for the law and inability to rehabilitate.
Castration helps reduce the sexual desires of sex offenders after their release from jail. This helps reduce the chances of committing the crime and safeguards the public. Crimes like rape, sodomy, statutory rape, and indecent liberties with a minor can result in chemical castration.
Unfortunately, your sex crime conviction could be based on false accusations. While castration for sex offenders may serve the interests of justice, it can be devastating when you are wrongfully accused. Your only chance at avoiding this extreme penalty is to fight your sex crime charge.
If you or your loved one faces serious sex crime charges in California, you will benefit from our expert legal insight at Sex Crimes Attorney. Call us at 888-666-8480 to discuss your case.