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Understanding California’s Sexual Assault Laws

Posted on in Criminal Defense

California sexual assault defense attorneyIn recent months, the news has been filled with stories of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment, and people have become emboldened to step forward and discuss the crimes that have been committed against them. The #MeToo movement has resulted in serious consequences for many people, including several well-known public figures. Under this increased level of scrutiny, some people may be facing accusations of sexual impropriety, and it is important to understand how California’s state laws define sexual assault and the possible consequences that can result from a conviction.

California Sex Crime Laws

In California, sexual offenses primarily fall into one of the following categories:

  • Sexual battery - This offense occurs when a person touches another person’s intimate parts against their will for the purpose of sexual gratification. This includes instances where the person being touched is unlawfully restrained, unconscious, or medically incapacitated. If the offense is a misdemeanor, it is punishable by one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If the offense is a felony, it is punishable by two, three, or four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 
  • Rape - This offense occurs when a person commits an act of sexual intercourse against a person’s will, including by force or threat, when the victim is unconscious, when the victim cannot resist because of intoxication, or any other time when the victim does not or cannot give their consent. Rape is a felony offense punishable by three, six, or eight years in state prison.
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse - This offense occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with a minor. Depending on the age difference between the minor and the perpetrator, the offense may be either a misdemeanor or a felony, and it may be punishable by one to four years in county jail. In addition, a perpetrator may be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000.
  • Forcible penetration - This offense occurs when a person commits an act of sexual penetration against a person’s will (including when a person is intoxicated, unconscious, or unable to give consent) using any foreign object or part of the body other than a sexual organ. This is a felony offense, punishable by three, six, or eight years in state prison.

Contact a San Jose, CA Sexual Assault Defense Attorney

While claims of sexual assault should be taken seriously, the current atmosphere in the United States has made it all too easy for someone’s life to be ruined by false accusations. If you have been accused of sexual battery, rape, or any other sexual offense, the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson can help you understand your options for defense and work to clear your name. Contact a San Jose criminal defense lawyer at 408-246-3004 to schedule a free consultation.


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