What to Do When You've Been Accused of a Sex Crime

Being accused of a sex crime is a devastating experience. The accusation alone causes panic in the accused, and even friends and family often react immediately and harshly. If you are facing a sex crime charge in the greater San Diego area, you don’t have to go through it alone. At RJT Criminal Defense, we understand what you are going through, and we have the experience and dedication to insure that your rights are protected at this difficult time.

Sex Crimes in California

While there are many different types of sex crimes defined under the California Penal Code, they have one thing in common: they are treated harshly by the courts. Some of the more commonly charged sex crimes are:


There are actually several different categories of rape in California. They include forcible sexual intercourse, intercourse accomplished through threats, intercourse where a person (by reason of intoxication, for example) is prevented from resisting, and others. These are covered under PC 261. But there are also categories in addition to what most people consider “forcible rape.” One of these is spousal rape. While some people may believe that it is not possible to be charged with rape of one’s spouse, this is incorrect. As in the case of any other forcible rape, it is a felony, and is generally punishable by imprisonment for three, six or eight years. Another category is statutory rape, known in California as unlawful sexual intercourse. This can be charged where one of the parties is a minor (under the age of 18), and therefore under the age where he or she can consent legally to sexual intercourse. If the minor and the adult are within three years of each other in age, it is a misdemeanor; otherwise it is a wobbler, and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.


This includes a variety of acts which the law calls “lewd or dissolute” conduct. Examples are touching the “private parts” (yours or another person’s) for the purpose of offending another, or for the purpose of sexual gratification. Interestingly, having sex in a public place, in and of itself, is not a criminal act. But where you know (or should know) that another person may be present who would be offended, then it becomes a misdemeanor. Lewd acts, generally speaking, also include indecent exposure.

Sex Crimes Involving Children

There are numerous crimes of a sexual nature involving children. They include statutory rape, lewd acts involving a child, child pornography, and others. They are felonies.

Many of these and related offenses carry stiff penalties, and depending upon additional factors such as your prior criminal history, you may be subject to an enhanced sentence if convicted. Finally, you may have to register as a sex offender.

Sex Offender Registration Act

One of the most difficult aspects of being charged with a sex crime is the possibility, if convicted, that you may be subject to the Sex Offender Registration Act. In addition to the publicity attendant to having your name and the details of your case published on the internet, you may also be required to update your registration annually, and advise law enforcement of an address change. However, not all sex crimes require registration in the event of a conviction, and there may be the possibility, if you are convicted, that you could be relieved at some point of any registration requirements that are required.

Whatever the nature of the charge against you, sex crimes carry serious penalties. While many of these offenses are felonies, some are misdemeanors, and some do not require registration as a sex offender. The difference, in some cases, is the way the prosecutor frames the case against you.

Ryan J. Tegnelia is an experienced criminal defense attorney. He is dedicated to obtaining the best result possible for all his clients, and he will fight for a dismissal or a reduction in the charges against you. Call today for a free consultation.