Types of sex crimes and how they are handled in a California court

Sexual misconduct is a term used to describe various sexual behaviors that are illegal under California law. These include but are not limited to retaliatory harassment, child sexual abuse, sexual intimidation, indecent exposure, sexual assault.

It is important to understand what is meant by sexual misconduct. This can help you recognize it in your everyday life and avoid being wrongly accused.

How California law defines sex crimes

A sex crime is conduct involving touching a part of the body, such as the buttocks, genitals, breasts, or anus, without consent. The circumstances in which the contact took place and the nature of the contact also play a major role in determining whether or not a sex offense has been committed.

For example, if you’re in a restaurant and a waiter accidentally touches your breasts as you pass by, that doesn’t qualify as a sex crime under California law. However, if another waiter intentionally touches your breasts with his hand, that is a sexual offense.

A sex crimes attorney can help you understand the different types of sex crimes in California and how they are handled by the courts.

Offense sex crimes

Examples of transient sexual offenses include intentionally fondling a stranger’s breasts without their consent and touching another person’s buttocks without their consent.

The penalty for any such form of offense that does not involve unlawful restraint is six months in a county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. The fine can be up to $3,000 if the accused was the victim’s employer.


Examples of a criminal offense are:

  • Getting someone with an intellectual disability to masturbate in front of you
  • Forcibly holding a person down and kissing them or removing their clothes
  • A male doctor convincing a patient to allow her to feel her breast for her sexual excitement or satisfaction

Such kind of sexual offenses have different penalties. If filed as a misdemeanor, the accused could receive up to a year in a county jail and a fine of about $2,000. In the case of a felony, the accused can receive up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a broad term that can mean many things. The term is generally classified into two categories under California law.

Quid pro quo harassment

This usually occurs in a professional setting where a supervisor directly or indirectly forces an offspring to submit to sexual collaboration to avoid demotion or dismissal. For example, a manager cannot ask an employee to sleep with him to avoid being fired.

Hostile work environment

This form of behavior does not necessarily involve any sexual advances. It usually manifests as gender-based harassment. Here people are discriminated against because of their gender. This may include using demeaning comments about bodies, crude sexual jokes, or sexist remarks. Such acts are categorized as sexual harassment because they are sexual.

Child sexual abuse

Child abuse is taken very seriously in the state of California. Therefore, anyone found guilty of such crimes will be severely punished. Child sex offenses include:

  • bestiality
  • Internet sex crimes against minors
  • Lascivious or lewd acts involving a child
  • Oral copulation with a child
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child
  • child prostitution
  • Kidnapping a child for sexual abuse
  • child pornography

Statute of limitations for sexual assault claims in California

The time limit for filing a sexual assault case depends on whether the victim is a child or an adult. If the attack took place on or after the victim’s 18th birthday, they must report it within 10 years of the time of the incident. They should also file a complaint within three years of the victim discovering an illness or injury resulting from the sexual act.

Find legal representation

If you have been accused of a sex crime in California, contact an attorney immediately. A sex crimes attorney provides legal assistance to clients and helps protect their rights during a court proceeding.

Mark Scott

With a law degree, Mark Scott understood very early on that legal communication was a relatively neglected area. He decided to help people by “translating” the language and offering information and advice in a clear, useful and actionable way. For this reason you will most likely not find him in court but will find his name online where he is very active and successful as a legal columnist. His part in making the world a better place is making the law a less complicated maze. Its goal is to make it easier for people to understand when and how to seek legal assistance, how to proceed with a significant number of legal matters, and to find the right resources so they can defend their rights.