Sex Crime Laws in California
Being charged with a criminal offense in California can be an intimidating experience. Sex crimes are especially serious offenses that can lead to life-changing consequences, including long prison sentences and mandatory sex offender registration.
Although sex crimes are serious offenses that require skillful legal counsel from an experienced attorney, there are steps you can take to protect your rights during this difficult time. Keep reading to learn more about sex crime laws and sex offender registration requirements in the state of California.
Does California Have Romeo & Juliet Laws?
“Romeo and Juliet” laws, known as close-in-age exemptions, are honored by some U.S. states to prevent young adults who engage in consensual sex with partners close to them in age. The state of California does not have Romeo and Juliet laws. This means that it is illegal for anyone to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor, even if the perpetrator is also a minor.
California Sex Offender Registration Requirements
In addition to facing legal penalties like fines and prison time, defendants convicted of certain sex crimes may also be required to register as sex offenders. Being included in the sex offender registry can carry a tremendous stigma and severely limit your future opportunities by affecting:
- Your professional life. Many sex offenders face restricted economic and financial opportunities in the professional sphere, leading to reduced job opportunities and pay.
- Your personal life. Registered sex offenders can struggle to find and maintain romantic relationships, in addition to nurturing and maintaining relationships with family and friends.
- Your personal freedoms. Being a registered sex offender can prevent you from living in certain areas and obtaining employment in certain industries, such as law, education, and daycare.
The state of California requires individuals convicted of certain sex offenses to register as a sex offender. The California Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) requires sex offenders to register with their county’s law enforcement agency within 5 working days of release from prison or jail. Registrants are required to provide updated information pertaining to their place of residence, and employment within 5 days of their birthday on an annual basis. Such information is made available to the public through the California Department of Justice website.
Examples of sex crimes that require registration include:
- Sexual battery
- Statutory rape
- Child sexual abuse
- Lewd acts with a minor
- Incest involving minors
- Creating, sharing, or possessing child sexual abuse materials (CSAM)
Additionally, some offenders may be required to remain registered after completing their sentence if they have been designated as a “high-risk offender” by the court due to certain extenuating factors, such as prior convictions or threatening behavior during the commission of the crime.
Once registered, California sex offenders must renew their registration annually. Failure to comply with SORA regulations can result in misdemeanor or felony charges punishable by up to one year in county jail. Long term consequences can include up to 3 years in prison, denial of housing applications, and potential difficulties finding gainful employment.
Failure to register as a sex offender after the court orders you to do so is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a felony offense punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
It's important for sex crime offenders in California to understand the gravity of the legal penalties associated with a conviction. Registering as a sex offender can have far-reaching consequences that impose a lifelong limit on your personal, professional, and economic opportunities. It’s imperative to consult with a trusted criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to avoid life-altering repercussions.
What Constitutes Statutory Rape?
Under California Penal Code § 261.5 PC, statutory rape occurs when an individual engages in sexual activity with someone who is under the legal age of consent (18 years old in the state of California). It’s crucial to understand that it doesn’t matter whether the underage party agreed to the sexual activity, as minors cannot legally consent to sex.
Statutory rape in California is considered a wobbler offense, meaning that the defendant can be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor conviction depending on the nature of the crime. Depending on which degree of statutory rape is charged, there is a range of penalties that defendants can face, from prison time to fines to restitution.
A misdemeanor conviction for statutory rape is punishable by up to180 days or 1 year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines, while a felony conviction is punishable by 16 months to 3 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Contact a Skilled Sex Crime Defense Lawyer in Murrieta
Facing sex crime charges can be terrifying. Whether you had good intentions or made an honest mistake, a sex crime conviction can lead to harrowing consequences. To give yourself a fighting chance in court, hiring strong representation is non-negotiable.
Our firm understands how delicate criminal cases can be. Attorney John Pozza has the legal knowledge and specialized training you need to obtain a favorable outcome. With over 25 years of experience, our Murrieta criminal defense lawyer is well-equipped to represent the accused in a range of criminal cases, from drug crimes to DUI defense.
If you’re facing sex crime charges in California, you deserve strong representation to defend your rights. Call (951) 749-5598 to schedule a consultation.