Guide to Sex Crimes in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles Sex Crime Defense Attorney

A person charged with a sex crime in Los Angeles may face jail time, fines, and the stigma of being accused of a crime. But with sex crimes, there’s more. In this #MeToo era, accusations of sexual criminality can have an immediate impact on the accused’s professional and family life. Moreover, if convicted of certain sex crimes, the defendant may be placed on California’s sex offender registry for 10 years or longer.

Persons accused of sex crimes in Los Angeles should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles sex crime defense attorney to protect their rights and begin clearing their name.

Sex Crimes in California

There are a wide variety of criminal acts that fall under the umbrella of sex crimes in California. From rape and sexual assault to agreeing to engage in prostitution or possessing child pornography, sex crimes are vigorously prosecuted in California.

Sex crimes in California can be treated as felonies (penalty of over one year in jail) or misdemeanors (less than one year in jail). Many sex crimes are called “wobblers.” Wobblers are sex crimes that, depending on the facts of a particular case (seriousness of the charge, injuries to the victim, defendant’s prior criminal history), can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor at the discretion of the prosecutor.

Some of the most prosecuted sex crimes in California are listed below:

  • Rape - California Penal Code §261 PC
  • Statutory Rape - California Penal Code §261.5 PC
  • Sexual Assault - California Penal Code §243.4 PC
  • Child Pornography – California Penal Code §311 PC
  • Prostitution – California Penal Code §647(b) PC
  • Pimping and Pandering–California Penal Code §266(h) and §266(i) PC
  • Indecent Exposure – California Penal Code §314 PC

Which sex crimes are considered violent crimes? Certainly, rape, sexual assault and continuous abuse of a child would be violent crimes. Rape is defined as having sex with someone without their consent. Using violence, force or the threat of violence is one way to force someone to have sex.

Similarly, a person can commit sexual assault (also known as sexual battery), if the attacker and/or an accomplice use force to restrain the victim while touching the victim’s intimate body parts for gratification or to abuse the victim.

However, that leaves out pimping and pandering, which may have elements of violence (or at least, threats of violence).

Sex crime investigation process

No two sex crime cases are exactly alike, but there are some similarities in the investigative process of a sex crime. First, a victim makes a complaint or reports a crime to the police. The police then interview the victim. Next, the police will conduct a forensic investigation. A doctor or nurse may examine the victim. The police may collect the clothes the victim was wearing at the time of the rape to be examined in the police laboratory. The police may visit the scene of the crime to take pictures and search for evidence.

If the victim knew the perpetrator, the police may ask the victim to call the perpetrator on the phone with the police listening. The police will coach the victim to try to get the perpetrator to admit that he raped or assaulted the victim. The police will then investigate the background of the perpetrator. Finally, the police will contact the perpetrator to request an interview.

If you or a loved one are under investigation for a sex crime, and the police contact you, you should politely decline to be interviewed. You should then immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles sex crime defense attorney to represent you. The chances are much better that you will hurt yourself in the long run by speaking to the police without an attorney present rather than having an attorney by your side.

Sex Offender Registration in California

California Penal Code §290 PC requires persons convicted of certain sex crimes to register with the state as sex offenders. In January 2022, the California legislature amended the law. The legislature put in place a three-tier system which determines how long a sex offender stays on the registry (previously, once someone was declared to be a sex offender, that person remained on the registry for life):

  • Tier 1-10 years on the registry
  • Tier 2-20 years
  • Tier 3-Lifetime registration

Generally, persons convicted of low-level misdemeanors will find themselves in Tier One. Persons convicted of mid-level misdemeanors are placed in Tier 2. Most felony sex crime convictions lead to the defendant being placed in Tier 3.

For persons in Tiers 1 and 2, removal from the sex offender registry at the end of their term is not automatic. Rather, sex offenders must petition the court to be removed. Moreover, a prosecutor can object to the removal of a particular person from the registry.

“Registration” as a sex offender means the person must report his address to local law enforcement within five working days after the sex offender is released from jail or finishes probation. He must also report to the local police annually within five working days of his birthday.

These requirements pertain to anyone on the sex registry who lives, works or attends college in California. Lastly, if he moves, he must report his new address to the local law enforcement agency.

The court notifies the California Department of Justice once they have put someone on the registry. That agency monitors the people on the registry for their compliance with Penal Code §290. Failure to comply with the registration requirements can lead to felony charges.

Can a sex crime be expunged in California?

The answer is, maybe. If a person is sentenced to state prison on felony charges, that person cannot get his conviction expunged. However, if someone is sentenced to felony probation, he may be able to get the conviction expunged.

Misdemeanor convictions, such as for prostitution, are eligible for expungement. Some felony convictions, if the felony was a wobbler, may be expunged. If sex offenses are not expunged from a person’s criminal record, they remain on the record.

Experienced Los Angeles Sex Crime Lawyers

As can be seen above, a person can be charged with many different sex crimes in California. And while people are victims of real sex crimes, many innocent people can accidentally get into a situation that leads to police involvement.

Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles sex crime defense lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. If you or a loved one have been charged with a sex crime, contact them at (310) 299-0062 to set up a free consultation so they can help you begin the fight against the charges and protect your rights.

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