Committing a sex crime attracts serious penalties, with each offense attracting different punishments depending on the circumstances. After facing arrest and detention for alleged engagement in sex crimes, you need to understand the nature of your charges and the possible implications. You should also understand the possible obligations you must fulfill if you face conviction to avoid further legal repercussions.
Sex crimes vary in severity, especially depending on the victim’s age. Based on this, you need an overview of sex crimes prosecuted in California to help you navigate your criminal defense case. You must also partner with a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands the importance of raising solid defenses to counter the prosecutor’s case against you. With their input, you have better chances of persuading the court of your innocence and pleading for an acquittal.
At Sex Crimes Attorney, we dedicate our services to helping you prepare for your sex crime-related trial by representing you. Our team is equipped to thoroughly research your case by comparing it to previously decided cases and the legal provisions related to the accusation. You can also count on us to represent you in court during the defense hearing to ensure you make a strong oral submission before the judge and jury. Our team is also available to gather all relevant evidence to support your case and provide necessary updates about the case's progress. Our services are available for clients facing sex crime accusations in Los Angeles, California.
The Nature of Sex Crimes
As an arrested suspect facing sex crime accusations, you must understand the prevailing characteristics that apply to all accusations in preparation for trial. Since sex crimes are prohibited in various sections of the California Penal Code, they attract criminal consequences for anyone found guilty.
The prosecutor handling your case receives the alleged facts from the investigating officers or complainants who present the issue to their department. After identifying your actions as a specific offense, the prosecutor will file a formal case against you and give you a court date.
Sex crimes also have generally applicable characteristics, including coercion, trickery, or force to engage the victim in sexual activity. Many offenses also involve knowingly offending the victim or causing their exploitation. Based on this, the prosecutor’s case must indicate all necessary elements of a crime to ensure your conviction is founded.
Some sex crimes are also related due to the similarity in the elements of the crime. For example, an offense related to committing sexual activity in public is closely related to indecent exposure, as both may involve showing genitals in public. Similarly, offenses involving sexual exploitation are often interrelated. For example, trafficking children for sex and exploiting minors by forcing them into prostitution have similar characteristics.
The Charging Process
If you engage in more than one sexual offense at a time, the prosecutor may issue a joint charge, making you liable for harsher penalties. Alternatively, they may introduce your actions as aggravating factors over a main criminal charge, also attracting harsher sentencing penalties.
Despite this, the prosecution team must first convince the judge and jury hearing your case that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They do this by providing sufficient evidence for each element of crime related to your charge. Their arguments must also show your direct involvement in the offense and your knowledge and criminal intent in committing the offense.
If the judge finds you guilty of a sex crime, they move on to the sentencing based on the Penal Code provisions on the specific charge you faced. Many offenses provide a sentencing bracket, meaning a minimum and maximum penalty.
The presiding judge can adjust your sentence to be as close as possible to the minimum or maximum penalty, depending on the circumstances of your case. If your actions involve aggravating factors like violence, coercion, or the use of force, you are liable to face a higher sentence. Conversely, if your actions involve mitigating factors, the judge can review the standard sentence and issue a lenient version.
Sex Crime Classifications
Sex crimes also vary in the charges you may face, with some being misdemeanor crimes while others remain felonies. Additionally, you may face a wobbler crime, whereby the prosecutor may either issue a felony or misdemeanor charge depending on the nature of your actions. In all cases, the prosecutor must charge you with the most serious offense, either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Felonies are a more serious category, often involving physical harm to the victim. They, therefore, attract more serious sentences, including high fine payment orders, a state prison sentence, and mandatory registration with the sex offender directory under the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). A misdemeanor is more lenient, with offenders facing up to one year in county jail and a lower fine payment sentence.
Upon learning about your sex crime charge, notify your sex crime attorney as soon as possible to give them enough time to respond to your case appropriately. Their involvement helps you understand the possible outcomes you may face and how to navigate your defenses.
Examples of Sex Crimes Prosecuted in California
The California Penal Code classifies offenses into various categories depending on the elements of the crime. You may face a charge that falls within the federal offense category, meaning it attracts serious consequences for offenders countrywide. Some examples of sex crimes reported in California include:
The Penal Code prohibits rape under Section 261 and seriously penalizes guilty offenders. Elements of crime related to the offense include using force, trickery, or fear to make a victim have sexual intercourse with you. During the trial, the prosecutor must establish that you lacked consent to engage in intercourse and violated the victim’s autonomy.
Rape accusations apply in violent circumstances; the victim reports succumbing to your violent or forceful approaches. Similarly, you may face the charge in otherwise consensual circumstances, like during a date, as long as the victim did not consent to sexual intercourse. If the person was too intoxicated to consent or unconscious when you had sex with them, you are liable for rape charges.
The penalties applicable to guilty offenders vary depending on the victim’s age. If the victim was over eighteen, you may face three, six, or eight years in state prison and a twenty-year registration requirement. For a victim between fourteen and seventeen, you risk facing seven, nine, or eleven years in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration. For minors below fourteen, you may face nine, eleven, or thirteen years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Committing Lewd Acts in Public
Committing any sexual activity in public is a criminal offense prohibited under Section 647(a) of the Penal Code. The law criminalizes sexual actions in public because they can easily offend and violate people, compromising their well-being.
Examples of prohibited actions in public include masturbation and sexual behavior that involves rubbing genitals in public and exposing private parts. As a convicted offender, you face misdemeanor charges for the offense, resulting in six months to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1000.
Child Pornography Charges
The law prohibits anyone from owning, possessing, duplicating, transporting, selling, or distributing child pornography, as it promotes child exploitation. The provisions under Section 311 of the California Penal Code criminalize any activity related to advertising and distributing pornographic content.
You may face arrest regardless of the format that the pornography is in, as law enforcement officials aim to curb its distribution in any format. For example, police may arrest you for handling pictures, magazines, videotapes, and online links in cases of suspected involvement with the graphic content.
Convicted offenders will likely face felony penalties ranging from three to six years in state prison or a fine payment of up to $10,000. You may face up to one year in county jail for a misdemeanor offense.
Indecent exposure charges are related to committing lewd conduct in public. However, they vary based on the elements of crime, so the Penal Code prohibits indecent exposure separately under Section 314. The offense occurs when you knowingly expose your genitals or a female breast in public to offend others or sexually gratify yourself.
As a first-time offender, you may face misdemeanor charges that attract a six-month sentence in county jail or a fine payment of up to $1000. As a second-time offender, the prosecutor may enhance your charges to a felony, resulting in a conviction in state prison.
Convicted Persons’ Duty to Register as a Sex Offender
Some offenses require the offender to formally register as a sex offender as a safety measure for the general public. The requirement is founded in Section 290 of the California Penal Code, which provides guidelines on the various registration tiers.
After facing a conviction for a sex crime requiring registration, you must submit to the closest registration office to update your status. Once verified, it is then made public on the National Sex Offender Public Website, meaning that anyone has access to it. The information can harm your public image, limiting your access to employment, education, and housing opportunities.
Nevertheless, the law still imposes an obligation, and failure to register attracts serious legal penalties on top of your conviction for the charged sex crime. Generally, you must also renew your status as a sex offender within five days of your yearly birthday. You also need to update your address details after moving, and you must do so within five days of relocating.
Additional obligations may apply depending on the nature of the offense you engaged in to further protect the public. For example, if you are convicted of a crime related to sexually exploiting children, you may receive additional orders to stay away from schools or any other establishment that hosts minors. Based on this, you cannot rent or buy a home near these institutions, as it would violate the orders.
The following are the sex offender registration tiers rolled out under Section 290 of the Penal Code:
Tier One Offenses
After a conviction for an offense classified as ‘minor’ in the Penal Code, you fall within the Tier 1 registration category. The terms require you to register as a sex offender for up to ten years, after which you can seek removal from the offenders’ database.
Some offenses falling within the Tier 1 category include:
- Committing indecent exposure contrary to Section 314 of the Penal Code.
- Violating child pornography restrictions under Section 311.1.
- Committing misdemeanor sexual battery in violation of Section 243.4.
- Having sexual intercourse unlawfully contrary to Section 266 of the Penal Code.
- Penetrating a victim using a foreign object contrary to Section 289 of the Penal Code.
Tier Two Offenses
The Penal Code also provides for offenses classified as ‘moderate, meaning that while the actions were a gross violation of the victim’s personhood, the victim can recover from the ordeal and rebuild their life. Despite this, tier two offenses are serious, attracting misdemeanor or felony penalties depending on the nature of your offense.
Obligations applicable in this category require you to register as a sex offender for twenty years, within which your status remains accessible to the general public. You must present all relevant documentation to show that you have completed the registration or risk facing additional legal repercussions. With your sex crimes attorney’s help, you can complete the process if you face any of the following convictions:
- Raping a victim who cannot consent due to extreme intoxication or unconsciousness.
- Committing incest is contrary to Section 285 of the Penal Code.
- Making contact with a minor to commit a felony offense is prohibited under Section 288.3 PC.
- Committing oral copulation with a child under fourteen years old contradicts Section 287 of the Penal Code.
Tier two offenses may transform into tier three crimes upon discovering more serious facts surrounding the case during the trial stage. Your defense attorney must thus remain attentive to your case's progress to ensure they deal with all emerging accusations accordingly.
Tier Three Offenses
When you commit a severe sex crime with lasting effects on the victim, your charge falls within the tier three category, resulting in a lifetime registration for your sex offense. The law imposes this obligation because of the serious nature of your actions, especially if you targeted minors.
Facing lifetime registration obligations can create serious challenges even after completing your sentence, as you have limited access to opportunities. Therefore, your attorney’s goal is to persuade the court not to convict you of a tier three crime by presenting strong defenses to counter the charge.
Consequences of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
When you deliberately fail to register as a sex offender, you will likely face several consequences under Section 290 of the Penal Code. The prosecutor must show that you violated a legal provision, which translates to another offense on top of the initial sex crime charge.
As a result, the prosecutor must first demonstrate that your actions were intentional and thus unlawful. They do this by filing another trial after your release, whereby they present all elements of crime related to your non-registration as a sex offender.
During the trial, the prosecutor must present the following elements of the crime before the judge issues orders for additional penalties:
You willfully Failed to Comply With Sex Offender Registration Requirements
The basis of the prosecutor’s accusations is that you knew you had a legal obligation to fulfill yet chose not to do it. Based on this, they must show that you were aware of your obligation and took steps to avoid registration willfully.
They can use various evidential sources to support their claims, including any available correspondence between you and the registry officials. By showing that the officials notified you of your duty and that you confirmed receipt of the notifications, the prosecutor will have demonstrated your wilful absconding of duty.
You can also expect the prosecution team to rely on correspondence between you and a third party indicating your intention to avoid registration. For example, if the prosecutor has documentary evidence in text exchanges between you and a friend where you expressed your intention to defy the law, it can be enough to prove the claim.
Overall, the prosecutor relies on relevant evidence demonstrating your knowledge of the existing legal obligation and your deliberate intention to violate it. This may also extend to any witnesses with information about your unlawful intentions. They may appear in court to provide oral testimony or prepare an affidavit detailing their actions.
You Faced a Criminal Conviction for a Sex Crime Imposing Registration Obligations
The prosecutor must also show that you are eligible for registration as a sex offender by showing that you faced conviction for a sex crime with registration requirements. Doing this is easy for them, as they only need to present records of the recently concluded criminal trial. The prosecutor will have an even easier time if the current matter is before the same judge who prosecuted you for your sex crime, as accessing the court records is easier.
Examples of documentary evidence that the prosecutor relies on to prove their claim include a signed judgment, records of the trial proceedings, and a signed copy of your conviction order. If the presiding judge accepts these documents, the prosecutor will have succeeded in presenting a case against you.
You are a Resident Of California
Since sex crime laws vary between states, the prosecutor must also show that you are a permanent resident of California, meaning that the laws in the state apply to your case. By doing so, the prosecutor prevents you from raising the defense that you relied on a different state’s laws to bypass your registration as a sex offender.
Proving your residency status is also a straightforward process for the prosecutor, as they will only need to extract your records. They can do this by accessing your records from the Department of Justice, which contain your address and other details showing that you are a resident.
However, if you reside in two or more states, your defense attorney can help you raise the issue during the trial to justify your delay in registering as a sex offender. The judge will nevertheless use their discretion to determine whether California's laws apply dominantly over other states’ laws based on various factors. For example, your frequency of living in the other state may inform your ties to it, directing the judge's decision.
A Legal Obligation to Register as a Sex Offender Existed
Showing that you were under a legal obligation to register as a sex offender is closely tied to the second element of the crime that requires the prosecutor to show your conviction. In this case, the prosecutor must produce a formal document declaring that your involvement in the specific sex crime automatically translates to registration as a sex offender.
Several documents can serve the prosecutor’s goal of proving the existence of a legal obligation, including the extract from the specific section of the California Penal Code and the judgment entered against you. The judge only requires verification that you should have complied with the legal directives and currently risk facing repercussions for failing to comply.
Penalties for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
Since failure to register as a sex offender is a criminal offense, you may face misdemeanor or felony charges. As a misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in county jail or a fine of up to $1000. As a felony, you may face up to ten years in state prison or a fine of up to $10,000.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Upon facing sex crime charges, you risk receiving serious criminal charges, depending on the charged offense. You need to learn about the various sex crimes discussed in the penal code and the consequences of engaging in any of them to help you prepare your defense. You must also understand the sex offender registration requirements if you face conviction for a crime requiring registration.
By gathering the necessary details, you are in a better position to prepare for trial and to persuade the judge of your position. Partnering with a criminal attorney is also advantageous, as they will apply their skill and experience to help you improve your case arguments.
At Sex Crimes Attorney, you will partner with skilled and reliable attorneys with experience handling sex crime cases. Our team has helped multiple clients defend their cases in trial, equipping us with the necessary tools to improve your chances of a favorable case outcome. If you or a loved one requires legal guidance and representation to counter sex crime accusations in Los Angeles, California, call us today at 888-666-8480.