There is no turning back from a conviction for a sex offense in Los Angeles. Even after the penalties of a conviction have passed, the stigma associated with the charges that were made against you will live on – most likely forever.
That’s why it’s so important to speak with a skilled defense attorney if you or someone you love has been accused of a sex crime. With a strong, hard-hitting defense attorney called to the scene early on, you stand the best chance of beating the allegations against you.
Especially in the era of #metoo, it has become too common in our society for people to make severe accusations, even when the situation doesn’t warrant it. For this reason, defendants who are facing sex offense charges in California need to act quickly and aggressively.
We defend all types of sex crimes, including:
It’s illegal to create, publicize or distribute material depicting children under 18 engaged in sexual situations.
Child pornography, defined in California Penal Code 311 PC, is one of the most common sex offenses charged in California, and it’s one of the most serious. A child pornography conviction could carry years in prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
If the case is tried in Federal Court, penalties can range as high as 30 years in prison and life sentences.
Rape (261 PC) is non-consensual intercourse accomplished by the means of:
- Threats, force or fraud, or
- A victim who is unconscious or incapable of consenting.
Of course, this can include cases of rape by force, but it also includes a number of other cases. Date rape refers to cases of rape where someone has non-consensual intercourse with someone they were dating or were voluntarily spending time with.
Under California state law, minors aren’t legally able to consent. This means that if someone who is 18 or older has sexual intercourse with someone under 18, it is statutory rape.
Sexual Assault & Battery
It’s illegal in California to touch someone else’s intimate parts for the purposes of arousal, gratification or abuse. That is the crime of sexual battery (243.4 PC).
Sexual battery is an especially serious crime, because most convictions carry mandatory registration as a sex offender. Being on California’s sex offender registry is often more disruptive than your actual sentence, because it can lead to difficulty finding work or housing after your release.
Similar to sexual battery, the crime of oral copulation by force or fear (288a PC) refers to any case of non-consensual contact between one person’s mouth and another person’s genitals or anus. If you are convicted of oral copulation by force or fear, you could face up to 12 years in state prison and lifetime registration as a tier three sex offender.
Crimes against children are treated especially seriously in California. In cases where an adult has had illicit contact with a child over a considerable amount of time, a prosecutor can charge the adult with continuous sexual abuse of a child (288.5 PC).
In order to prove continuous sexual abuse of a child, a prosecutor doesn’t have to present evidence that every alleged encounter occurred. The state simply has to show that there was an irrefutable pattern of abuse of the child.
In cases where there is evidence for a specific encounter, the state can charge you with specific offenses, like oral copulation with a minor (288a PC). If convicted of either offense, you could face substantial prison time.
As well, police in California have been known to conduct sting operations for so-called “chat room crimes.” These are cases where someone sends harmful material to or arranges a meeting with a minor online.
Solicitation of a Prostitute
On the subject of police stings, police throughout California still commonly run prostitution stings. The letter of the law says it’s illegal to offer someone money in exchange for intercourse or a “lewd act.”
This makes it so police departments can pose undercover officers as prostitutes and arrest interested customers for solicitation of a prostitute (653f PC).
It’s often possible to have your solicitation of a prostitute charges reduced or dropped entirely when working with a skilled defense attorney. Depending on the facts of the case, it can be possible to argue insufficient evidence (the prosecution has to prove that you actually meant to go through with the transaction) or entrapment.
Human Trafficking / Sex Trafficking
If you are engaged in pimping or pandering, you could also be charged with human trafficking (236.1 PC) under California state law.
California’s human trafficking law makes it illegal to violate or deprive someone else of their personal liberty, for the purposes of:
- Obtaining forced labor or services,
- Selling the person for sex, or
- Exploiting them for obscene purposes.
If your actions in human trafficking or sex trafficking cross state or international borders, it’s also highly likely that the federal government could become involved in your case. If that is true, the potential penalties for human trafficking can range as high as 20 years in Federal Prison or life in prison if your case involved children.
Exposing yourself could land you on the sex offender registry. It’s illegal to knowingly and willingly expose your genitals in the presence of someone who’d be offended for the purpose of sexually gratifying yourself or offending someone else.
Indecent exposure (314 PC) is a “wobbler,” which means that it can be prosecuted either as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case. California’s indecent exposure laws are written very vaguely, which is why it is so important to speak with a skilled sex crimes defense attorney if you have been accused of indecent exposure.
It could mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, or the difference between jail time and freedom.
California Sex Offender Registry & Failure to Register
If you are convicted of a sex offense, you might be required to join the state sex offender registry. Registered sex offenders have to update their information annually and anytime they move.
The California Sex Offender Registry has three tiers:
- Tier 1: You must register for a minimum of 10 years
- Tier 2: You must register for a minimum of 20 years
- Tier 3: You must register for the rest of your life
If you fail to update your registration, you can be charged with failure to register as a sex offender (290 PC). Penalties for failure to register can depend on the original crime you were charged with, but it can range as high as three years for felons.
Sex Crimes Defense in Los Angeles
“Robert Helfend is one of the best criminal defense attorneys I’ve ever worked with. He was so knowledgeable, and always made sure I understood everything every step of the way. I would definitely recommend him to anyone who wants an understanding, caring, and truly helpful lawyer.” Pat, CA
Sexual misconduct actions are extremely serious. These crimes are generally punished more severely than any other offense except murder.
Sexual misconduct is rarely witnessed by anyone other than the accuser and the accused. The risk of an innocent person being wrongfully convicted is generally higher in these cases. Evidence is usually sketchy, if there is any evidence at all.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can comb through the details of your case, raising critical pieces of evidence and witness testimony that can see your charges reduced or dropped entirely. Robert M. Helfend is a specialist in sex crimes cases. He is rated in SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and Lead Counsel, practicing in Los Angeles since 1984.
Call today for your free case evaluation — 800-834-6434.