Sex Crimes cover a wide range of alleged crimes, too numerous to list, that can involve either adult or child victims. The most serious adult sex crimes may involve allegations of force or coercion. Examples of such crimes are rape under Penal Code section 261 or sodomy or oral copulation under Penal Code sections 286 and 288a. Where force or some other type of coercion is alleged the issue may often involve whether the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity. When sexual conduct that is perhaps less severe, such as in the case of sexual assault or battery under Penal Code section 243.4, there may be an issue of mistaken intent; that is, the reason for the unwanted touching may not have been for the required purpose of sexual gratification or abuse.
When a child is involved, the accused’s intent may also be an issue, but victim consent is obviously not an issue because our laws do not tolerate adult sexual encounters of any kind with children; and in cases involving child victims potential punishment is quite severe, often exposing accused adults to life in prison under Penal Code section 667.61, the law typically referred to as the “one-strike law”. Life imprisonment involving adult victims is also possible under the one-strike law in certain instances.
As with domestic violence cases, it is very important to have a lawyer with actual trial experience in this area of criminal law because experts are often involved and a thorough investigation and preparation can reveal false claims by young victims who have been influenced by involved adults for a variety of ulterior motives. Young victims may be also susceptible to the influence of peers and authority in law enforcement. This is a very delicate area of criminal law requiring the utmost care and attention to detail.