California Sex Crime Laws

California Teacher Accused of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

California Sex Crime Laws      

california sex crime lawsSex crimes in California range from misdemeanors to felonies, with varying degrees of penalties in between.  This blogpost will discuss these crimes and the penalties they impose.

“Sex crimes” is an umbrella term for a variety of different crimes. The most common crimes in California under the term “sex crime” are child sexual abuse, rape, indecent exposure, lewd conduct, prostitution, sexual battery, possession of child pornography, and soliciting a prostitute.

What Crimes Require Mandatory Registration as a Sex Offender

One of the biggest penalties with the most consequences is registering as a sex offender. This requirement can be found in California Penal Code 290.  Not all the crimes listed above require this registration. The crimes that do include:

  • Murder or assault with the intent to commit rape
  • Lewd and lascivious behavior acts with a child minor
  • Sodomy
  • Incest
  • Child pornography
  • Child molestation
  • Rape
  • Child trafficking

All the crimes listed above require mandatory registration.  However, crimes like helping a rapist commit a crime or exposure of private parts in public places could potentially require a person to register. Judges in California have discretion to require you to register as a sex offender, regardless of the crime convicted. A judge will consider registration if the crime had an underlying intent of illegal sexual acts.

Those required to register are required to re-register annually.  If a person who has been on a sex offender registry in another state moves to California, they are require to re-register in California, even if the visit is short term.

Conviction of a felony sex crime can also require a person to disclose this on employment applications. Conviction of a felony sex crime can also remove a person’s ability to own guns.

A person can attempt to get their sex crime conviction expunged.  Expungement does not allow a person to get off the sex offender registry or the duty to re-register as one annually. Sex offender registration termination can only happen if a person receives a certificate of rehabilitation.  This can be requested and removed by the court but only if the person is not in custody, on parole, or on probation.  Not every sex crime will allow for this.  The most serious felonies like rape, sodomy, and human trafficking do allow for a certificate of rehabilitation.

What Sex Crimes are Misdemeanors?

Most sex crimes are felonies however some are classified as misdemeanors.  These include:

  • Annoying or molesting a child
  • Lewd acts in public
  • Indecent exposure
  • Soliciting a minor
  • Solicitation and prostitution crimes

Misdemeanors will likely impose no longer than one year in jail and fines ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.


Rape is one of the most serious sex crimes. Rape, while a sex crime, can also be classified as a sexual battery act. A person commits rape in California when one of the following is true:

  • The defendant used physical force, intimation, duress, or threats;
  • The victim reacted due to fear of immediate bodily injury or injury to another person;
  • The victim lacked capacity to consent (from developmental disability, physical disability, intoxication)
  • The victim was unconscious or otherwise unaware that sexual intercourse was happening
  • The defendant induced sexual intercourse by making a fraudulent representation.

Generally, California imposes an imprisonment for rape between 3-8 years.  The prison time can increase if the victim was a minor or if the defendant acted with another to rape the victim.  Fines range from $2,000 to $25,000 for those who engage in sexual intercourse with a minor.

Sex crimes are extremely serious crimes.  These crimes have serious consequences for victims, with the trauma they have to experience.  In contrast, those who are convicted of sex crimes face serious prison time, fines, and punishment on a sex offender registry list.  Click here for additional information on sex crimes in California.