Defending your freedom since 1984. Speak with top rated Los Angeles sex crimes attorney Robert M. Helfend today
There is no turning back from a conviction for a sex offense. Even after the penalties of a conviction have passed, the stigma associated with the charges that were made against you will live on – sometimes forever.
With a strong, hard-hitting defense attorney called to the scene early on, you stand the best chance of beating the allegations against you.
Accused of a sex offense? Call attorney Robert M. Helfend for a free consultation at 800-834-6434. Practicing since 1984, he is rated by SuperLawyers, Lead Counsel and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.
- What is a sex crime?
- Robert M. Helfend sex crime practice areas
- Child molestation – Penal Code Section 288.5 PC
- Child pornography – Penal Code Section 311.11 PC
- Failure to register as a sex offender – Penal Code Section 290 PC
- Federal sex crimes
- Indecent exposure – Penal Code Section 314 PC
- ‘One Strike’ cases – Penal Code Section 667.61 PC
- Oral copulation with a minor – Penal Code Section 287 PC
- Rape – Penal Code Section 261 PC
- Revenge Porn – Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) PC
- Sexual assault & sexual battery – Penal Code Section 243.4 PC
- Sex offender registry removals
- Solicitation of a prostitute – Penal Code Section 647(b) PC
- Statutory rape – Penal Code Section 265.5 PC
- What happens If I am accused of a sex offense?
- Penalties for sex crime charges in California
- Defenses against sex crime charges
What is a sex crime?
The term “sex crime” refers to an illegal act that includes forced sexual contact or conduct. Sex crimes are serious offenses and they can result in significant legal penalties, including jail time and sex offender registration.
A sex crime conviction can also result in the loss of professional certifications, limiting your ability to find work, and it can jeopardize your immigration status.
Robert M. Helfend sex crime practice areas
As a specialist in sex crimes cases, Robert M. Helfend defends against all sex offenses. This includes:
Child molestation – Penal Code Section 288.5 PC
Child molestation is charged under the crime of “continuous sexual abuse of a child” in California. It involves an adult who, over a period of 3 months or longer, engages in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14, or commits three or more lewd or lascivious acts upon a child.
Child pornography – Penal Code Section 311.11 PC
It’s illegal to create, sell or possess photographs, films or digital files that depict a person under 18 years of age engaging in or simulating sexual conduct. Even “sexting” a naked picture of a minor can get you in trouble for child pornography in California.
Some of the most common child pornography crimes prosecuted in California include:
- Child Pornography Possession
- Child Pornography Distribution
- Peer to Peer Sharing of Child Pornography
- Possession of Obscene Material
The consequences of child pornography charges are varied and can be extremely severe. A defendant may lose his or her job and may face ruined personal and professional relationships, not to mention social ostracism and even such extremes as threats of injury and worse. If convicted, a defendant may face imprisonment and fines.
At a state level, child pornography is a “wobbler” offense and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the particular circumstances. A defendant may also be face sentenced with multiple counts of child pornography possession at once, one for each picture, video or other material allegedly found in his or her possession. This means that the criminal penalties can quickly add up. If a defendant is charged in federal court, the penalties are even more severe.
- What is child pornography?
- Read more about California’s child pornography laws
- Read more about using, persuading or coercing a minor to participate in pornography
Failure to register as a sex offender – Penal Code Section 290 PC
California law requires sex offenders to register with the local police every year, within five working days of their birthdays and any time they move to a new address. Failure to keep your registration current can lead to further penalties.
Federal sex crimes
State governments are usually responsible for prosecuting sex crimes. However, in some cases, the federal government is allowed to get involved.
These are usually cases of an aggravated sex crime or a crime that crosses state borders. For example, if someone in California produces child pornography in their home, they likely broke the state’s law prohibiting child pornography. If that person sends the pornographic material to someone in another state, they could now find themselves in trouble with the federal government as well.
Indecent exposure – Penal Code Section 314 PC
Indecent exposure involves deliberately exposing one’s genitals to someone else with the intent to offend or for sexual gratification. It is sometimes charged in conjunction with the crime of “lewd conduct in public” (Penal Code 647a PC).
While indecent exposure carries a relatively light sentence in terms of jail time, it does carry a mandatory 10-year registration as a sex offender.
‘One Strike’ cases – Penal Code Section 667.61 PC
“One Strike” charges can apply in cases where the victim is accused of committing a sex crime that also involves specific aggravating factors. These can include previous convictions for specified sex offenses, committing the offense during a burglary or kidnapping the victim.
The purpose of this law is to impose severe punishments for particularly heinous sex crimes, and punishments can range as high as life in prison.
Oral copulation with a minor – Penal Code Section 287 PC
Oral copulation with a minor involves cases where someone older than 18 engages in oral sex with someone younger than 18. In cases where the oral sex was not consensual, this can also result in “oral copulation by force or fear” charges.
This crime is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony sex crime, depending on the facts of the case. In either case, it carries mandatory sex offender registration.
Rape – Penal Code Section 261 PC
Rape is nonconsensual sexual intercourse accomplished by means of force, threats, duress, fraud or the victim being unconscious or unable to consent.
These can be among the most serious sex crime cases, as a rape conviction can carry significant jail time and lifetime sex offender registration.
Revenge Porn – Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) PC
Revenge porn describes the act of intentionally distributing an intimate image of someone else when there was a previous understanding that the image would be kept private. Penalties for a revenge porn conviction can range as high as a year in county jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
Sexual assault & sexual battery – Penal Code Section 243.4 PC
California law prohibits touching the intimate part of another person for purposes of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse when that person does not consent. This is sexual battery, which is also known as sexual assault.
Depending on the circumstances and the severity of the act, sexual battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, with penalties that may include imprisonment and/or fines. If convicted, you might also be required to register as a sex offender.
Sex offender registry removals
The California sex offender registry is a database of individuals living in the state that have been previously convicted of certain sex crimes. Appearing on California’s Megan’s Law database carries a number of requirements that can make it difficult to find a place to live, a job and otherwise live a normal life.
Depending on the circumstances around your conviction, it might be possible to be removed from the registry.
- How to get removed from the California sex offender registry
- Read more about sex offender registry residency restrictions
Solicitation of a prostitute – Penal Code Section 647(b) PC
It’s illegal in California to ask, entice or encourage someone else to engage in prostitution. You do not need to actually engage in sexual intercourse in order to be charged for soliciting a prostitute.
As a result, police departments routinely run “stings” with officers posing as prostitutes. If you have been caught in one of these stings, it’s important to speak with experienced sex crimes defense lawyers.
- Solicitation of a prostitute defense
- Read more about massage parlor prostitution stings
- Is prostitution legal in California?
- Pimping vs pandering: What’s the difference?
Statutory rape – Penal Code Section 265.5 PC
Statutory rape describes a case in which a person who is older than 18 has sexual intercourse with someone who was younger than 18 at the time of the encounter. Many states have “Romeo and Juliet” laws, which make it legal for two parties to have intercourse if they were around the same age, but that is not the case in California. It is always illegal to have intercourse with someone younger than 18.
Statutory rape can be treated as a misdemeanor sex crime or felony, depending on the facts of the case.
What happens If I am accused of a sex offense?
Every case is different, but below is a general outline of how a typical sex crimes case might unfold:
- The alleged crime is reported
- The accuser is interviewed
- Forensic investigation
- “Pretext call” – In a pretext call, police can have the accuser make a phone call to the suspect in order to secure a confession while the suspect is unaware that police are listening in.
- Investigation of other misconduct
- The suspect is interviewed
If there is enough evidence to support it, the suspect can then be charged with a sex crime.
Penalties for sex crime charges in California
Most sex crimes in California are either felonies or “wobblers.” Wobblers can be either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal history. Penalties can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Jail time
- Restraining orders
- Mandatory counseling
- Community service
Sex offender registration
If you are convicted of a sex offense, you might also be subject to mandatory sex offender registration. 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 (under Penal Code 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.
Defenses against sex crime charges
Sex crimes are rarely witnessed by anyone other than the accuser and the accused. Evidence is usually sketchy, if there is any evidence at all. This is how innocent people can get caught up in these cases.
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.
Call experienced sex crimes attorney Robert M. Helfend today for a free review of your case – 800-834-6434.
– Published January 22, 2013. Last updated September 22, 2023.