What Are The Punishments For Sex Crimes In California?

When listing “sex crimes” as a category of crimes that someone can be convicted for, there are many more sex crimes other than rape. Rape is the most egregious sex crime and can carry the heaviest penalties and punishments, given the circumstances of the case.

However, many other sex crimes are not rape that someone can be charged and convicted of, and each crime carries its own set of punishments.

Rape

Rape is when an offender engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is not the offender’s spouse under any of the following circumstances:

  • The victim is incapable of giving consent due to a mental, developmental, or physical disorder and this is known by the offender
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate bodily harm
  • Where the victim is unable to resist due to an intoxicating, controlled, or anesthetic substance and this is known by the offender
  • Where the victim was unconscious
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim
  • Where the victim submits under the belief that the offender is someone known to the victim

California does not specifically define “sexual intercourse” in the context of rape; though it is defined in the context of other sex crimes. Because of this, the legislature broadly construes what acts constitute rape. This statute includes all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault; any sexual penetration, no matter how slight; and the outrage and feelings of the victim’s person.

Punishments for Rape

The prison sentence for rape depends on a number of factors. The basic and low-level rape charge is punishably by 3-8 years in prison.

In cases where the victim was a minor and/or the rape was accomplished against the victim’s will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate bodily injury, imprisonment can exceed 10 years. A minor is anyone under the age of 18 years old.

Additionally, rape is a felony that can be a crime that falls within the “three strikes” category of the criminal justice system. Because of this, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a rape conviction.

Rape of a Spouse

Rape of a spouse is the engaging in sexual intercourse with the offender’s spouse under any of the following circumstances:

  • Where the act is against the victim’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate bodily harm to self or another person
  • Where the victim is unable to resist due to an intoxicating, controlled, or anesthetic substance and this is known by the offender
  • Where the victim was unconscious
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to use the authority of a public official to arrest, incarcerate, or deport the victim or another person.

California does not specifically define “sexual intercourse” in the context of rape; though it is defined in the context of other sex crimes. Because of this, the legislature broadly construes what acts constitute rape. This statute includes all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault; any sexual penetration, no matter how slight; and the outrage and feelings of the victim’s person.

Punishments for Rape of a Spouse

The prison sentence for rape depends on a number of factors. The basic and low-level rape charge is punishably by 3-8 years in prison.

There may be some cases in which the offender is sentenced to probation. In this case, the offender may also be sentenced to pay a fine up to $1,000 and/or reimburse the victim for the victim’s reasonable costs of counseling, etc.

Additionally, rape of a spouse  is a felony that can be a crime that falls within the “three strikes” category of the criminal justice system. Because of this, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a rape conviction.

Sodomy

The crime of sodomy is defined as sexual conduct consisting of contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another. Any sexual penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime of sodomy.

Punishments for Sodomy

Once convicted of sodomy, the prison sentence can vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime.

If the victim is under 18 years old, the crime is punishable up to 1 year in prison.

If the victim is under 16 years old and the offender is over 21 years old, the crime is punishable up to three years in prison.

If the vicitm is under 14 years old and is more than ten years younger than the offender, the crime is punishable up to eight years in prison.

If the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, menace, duress, or fear of immediate injury, the crime is punishable up to eight years in prison.

If any other the above factors are combined (i.e. under 14 years old and force was used to accomplish the act), imprisonment can be up to 13 years.

Additionally, sodomy is a felony that can be a crime that falls within the “three strikes” category of the criminal justice system. Because of this, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a rape conviction.

Forcible Acts of Sexual Penetration

An offender commits the crime of forcible acts of sexual penetration by commiting an act of sexual penetration under any of the following circumstances:

  • The victim is incapable of giving consent due to a mental, developmental, or physical disorder and this is known by the offender
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate bodily harm
  • Where the victim is unable to resist due to an intoxicating, controlled, or anesthetic substance and this is known by the offender
  • Where the victim was unconscious
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim
  • Where the victim submits under the belief that the offender is someone known to the victim
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to use the authority of a public official to arrest, incarcerate, or deport the victim or another person.

Punishments for Forcible Acts of Sexual Penetration

Once convicted of forcible acts of sexual penetration, the prison sentence can vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime.

Where the victim is not a minor, but the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate injury on the victim, it is punishable by 3 to 8 years in prison.

Where the victim is under the age of 14, but the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate injury on the victim, it is punishable by 8 to 12 years in prison.

Where the victim is a minor older than 14, but the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate injury on the victim, it is punishable by 6 to 10 years in prison.

Where the victim is not a minor but there are other circumstances involved (i.e. the victim is mentally disabled), the maximum prison sentence is 8 years.

Additionally, forcible acts of sexual penetration is a felony that can be a crime that falls within the “three strikes” category of the criminal justice system. Because of this, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a rape conviction.

Oral Copulation

The crime of oral copulation involves copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ or anus of another person.

Punishments for Oral Copulation

Once convicted of oral copulation, the prison sentence can vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime.

If the victim is under 18 years old, the crime is punishable up to 1 year in prison.

If the victim is under 16 years old and the offender is over 21 years old, the crime is punishable up to 3 years in prison.

If the vicitm is under 14 years old and is more than ten years younger than the offender, the crime's is punishable up to 8 years in prison.

Where the victim is not a minor, but the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate injury on the victim, it is punishable by 3 to 8 years in prison.

Where the victim is under the age of 14, but the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate injury on the victim, it is punishable by 8 to 12 years in prison.

Where the victim is a minor older than 14, but the act was accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate injury on the victim, it is punishable by 6 to 10 years in prison.

Where the victim is not a minor but there are other circumstances involved (i.e. the victim is mentally disabled), the maximum prison sentence is 8 years.

Additionally, oral copulation is a felony that can be a crime that falls within the “three strikes” category of the criminal justice system. Because of this, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a rape conviction.

Sexual Battery

An offender commits the crime of sexual battery under any of the following circumstances:

  • By touching an intimate part of another while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, the touching is against the victim’s will, and the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse;
  • By touching an intimate part of another who is institutionalized for medical treatment and who is seriously incapacitated, the touching is against the will of the victim, and the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse;
  • By touching an intimate part of another for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse, and the victim is unconscious at the time of the act, due to the fact that the offender fraudulently represented that the touching served as a professional purpose;
  • Causing a victim to masturbate or touch an intimate part of the offender, the victim, or a third person for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse, where the victims is either unlawfully restrained or institutionalized for medical treatment and is seriously disabled; and/or
  • By touching an intimate part of another where the touching is against the will of the victim and the touching is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.

Additionally, there is currently an amendment to this statute in front of the senate that would constitute a crime of sexual battery. These amendments include: intentionally removing or tampering with a condom without consent, when there was an agreement to use a condom; providing a third party with a condom that the offender knew had been tampered with; and knowingly misrepresenting to the victim that a form of contraception other than a condom is being used.

Punishments for Sexual Battery

Once convicted of oral copulation, the prison sentence can vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime.

If the victim is a minor and the offender has a prior felony conviction for sexual battery, then the crime is classified as a felony and the punishment is imprisonment for 2 to 4 years and a fine not exceeding  ($10,000).

When the victim is either unlawfully restrained, unconscious of the nature of the act, or seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, the punishment is either: imprisonment in a county prison for 1 year or less and a fine not exceeding $2,000; or imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Where the touching is against the will of the victim, but the victim is not unlawfully restrained, unconscious of the act, or seriously disabled, the crime is considered a misdemeanor, and the punishment is imprisonment in county jail not exceeding 6 months and/or a fine not exceeding $2,000.

Additionally, sexual battery is a felony that can be a crime that falls within the “three strikes” category of the criminal justice system. Because of this, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a rape conviction.

Unlawful Sexual Acts Procured by Fraud or False Pretenses

Unlawful sexual acts procured by fraud or false pretenses is when an offender procures consent to sexual acts by false or fraudulent representation with intent to create fear under the following circumstances:

  • When the offender induces any other person to engage in sexual intercourse, sexual penetration, oral copulation, or sodomy;
  • The victim’s consent is procured through false or fraudulent representation or pretense that is made with the intent to create fear and which does induce fear;
  • The fear would cause a reasonable person in similar circumstances to act contrary to the person’s free will; and
  • The victim does act contrary to his or her free will

Punishments for Unlawful Sexual Acts Procured by Fraud or False Pretenses

This crime is punishable by either imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 1 year, or imprisonment in a state prison for 2 to 4 years.

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child

An offender commits aggravated sexual assault of a child by committing the following crimes on a child under the age of 14 years old who is 7 or more years younger than the offender:

  • Where the crime of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or a forcible act of sexual penetration is committed, against the victim’s will, by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person;
  • Where the crime of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or a forcible act of sexual penetration is committed, against the victim’s will, by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim or any other person, and there is a reasonable possibility that the offender will execute the threat;
  • Where the crime of rape, sodomy, or oral copulation is committed and the offender voluntarily acts in concert with another person and against the will of the victim by means of force or fear of immediate injury to the victim or another person

Punishments for Sexual Assault of a Child

Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a felony, and it is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 15 years to life.

Further, an offender is subject to consecutive sentences for each offense under section 269 of the California Penal Code, whether the crimes involve separate victims or the same victim on separate occasions.

Sexual Acts with a Child 10 Years or Younger

When the offender is at least 18 years old and the victim is 10 years old or younger, and the offender commits the crime of rape, sodomy, or oral copulation, the crimes are re-classified as sexual acts with a child 10 years or younger.

Punishments for Sexual Acts with a Child 10 Years or Younger

When the offender is at least 18 years old and engages in sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child who is 10 years of age or younger, the punishment is imprisonment for 25 years to life.

When the offender is at least 18 years old and engages in oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child who is 10 years of age or younger, the punishment is imprisonment for 15 years to life.

Additionally, sexual acts with a child 10 years or younger consists of sentencing modifications to the crimes of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or forcible acts of sexual penetration. These are described above.

Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Person under 18

Unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18 consists of an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a victim who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the victim is a minor and the perpetrator is an “adult” person who is at least 18 years of age

There are also additional laws in California that criminalize other sexual acts with minors, including laws surrounding sodomy, sexual penetration, and oral copulation, as described above.

Punishments for Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Person under 18

The punishments for unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18 vary depending on the age of the offender and the age of the victim.

Where the minor is not more than 3 years older or 3 years younger than the offender, the crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 1 year imprisonment. Additionally, the adult can be fined up to $10,000.

Where the minor is more than 3 years younger than the offender, the crime is either a misdemeanor (punishable by no more than 1 year imprisonment) or a felony (punishable by imprisonment up to 3 years)

Where the offender is 21 years old or older and the minor is under 16 years old is either a misdemeanor (punishable by no more than 1 year imprisonment) or a felony (punishable by imprisonment of 2 to 4 years). Additionally, the adult can be fined up to $25,000.

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