What Is Oral Copulation Crime Oral copulation refers to contact between one’s mouth and another person’s genitals. In California, forcing another person into oral sex through fear or physical violence is a criminal offense. Committing oral sex through fear is a serious sexual offense that carries substantial penalties, including imprisonment and substantial fines, along with mandatory registration as a sex offender. If you or a loved one is facing charges related to forced oral sex, it’s crucial to secure competent legal representation. At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we are committed to helping you navigate these charges and strive for the best possible outcome for your case.
Legal Definition of Penal Code Section 288a in California Law
Oral copulation through fear or force occurs when an individual makes contact between their sexual organs and another person’s mouth without consent, using fear or physical violence. You may be charged with oral copulation by force or fear for various situations, including:
- Engaging in oral sex with an individual who is heavily intoxicated by alcohol or drugs and incapable of providing consent.
- Performing oral sex on an individual who is not in the right mental or physical state to give sexual consent.
- Engaging in oral sex with an unconscious individual.
Elements of Crime for Oral Copulation by Force or Fear
When charged with oral copulation by force or fear, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Actual Oral Sex: Oral copulation involves contact between the mouth and another person’s genitals. This contact can be minimal, and penetration is not required for a conviction. The prosecution must demonstrate that contact occurred.
- Lack of Consent: Consent is crucial in determining whether an act of oral copulation was committed willingly. Consent can be withdrawn, and even if it was initially given, force used after consent withdrawal can result in criminal charges.
- Use of Force: The use of force must be evident in the act of oral sex. Force or fear can manifest in various ways, such as physical violence, threats, or coercion compelling a person to engage in the act.
Oral Copulation with an Unconscious Person
Engaging in oral sex with an unconscious person who cannot resist the act constitutes a criminal offense in California. This includes individuals who were asleep or unaware that the act was taking place. Seeking legal representation from a competent criminal defense attorney is advisable if you are charged with oral copulation by force.
Oral Copulation with a Person Who Is Intoxicated
Charges under California Penal Code 288a can result from engaging in oral sex with a person who was too intoxicated to provide consent. The prosecutor must prove that you had reason to believe the victim was intoxicated and incapable of understanding the nature of the act.
Oral Copulation with a Disabled Individual
Engaging in oral sex with a person who is disabled, whether physically, developmentally, or mentally, and incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions can lead to charges under Penal Code 288a. Conviction requires proof that you were aware of the disability at the time of the act.
Legal Penalties for a Forced Oral Copulation Conviction
Oral copulation by force or fear is a grave offense in California, carrying both legal and social consequences. The severity of legal repercussions depends on the circumstances of the case, your criminal history, and the presence of bodily injuries resulting from the act. This offense is considered a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the specifics of the case. Penalties for a conviction under Penal Code 288a may include:
- Felony probation: A sentence instead of prison time, with conditions to be met.
- Prison sentences ranging from three to twelve years, depending on the age of the victim and other factors.
- Fines, which can reach up to $10,000.
- Mandatory registration as a sex offender, causing significant personal and professional consequences.
Committing an Offense in Concert
“Committing an offense in concert” means involvement in criminal activities with others. If convicted alongside other alleged offenders, enhanced penalties may apply, depending on the specific circumstances:
- Increased prison sentences for engaging in oral copulation with a minor or a child.
- Enhanced penalties for convictions involving minors.
Registration as a Sex Offender in California
Conviction for oral copulation by force or fear is considered a sexual offense and results in mandatory registration as a sex offender in California. This registration entails annual updates and can significantly impact your personal and professional life, making it difficult to find employment and housing.
Strike Offense and Moral Turpitude
If the alleged victim in an oral copulation case is a minor, the crime is considered a “strike offense.” Conviction for a strike offense leads to enhanced penalties, reduced good conduct credit, and potential suspension or revocation of professional licenses due to the offense’s moral turpitude.
Defenses Against California Penal Code 288a Charges
Facing charges related to oral copulation by force or fear can be distressing, but it doesn’t always result in a conviction. Several defenses may be applicable, depending on the circumstances of your case:
- Consent: Consent is a crucial element, and if the victim willingly participated, it can serve as a defense.
- Insufficient Evidence: Lack of physical evidence or witnesses may weaken the prosecution’s case.
- False Accusations: False accusations, particularly in sour relationships, may be used to seek revenge.
- Mistake of Fact: Believing consent was given can be a defense if reasonable.
- Coerced and Improper Confessions: Inappropriate tactics used to obtain evidence can lead to its dismissal.
- Intoxication: Lack of specific intent due to intoxication can be a defense if applicable.
Penal Code 288a Related Offenses
Oral copulation by force or fear may be charged alongside or in place of other offenses in California, including:
- Oral Copulation with a Minor: Engaging in oral copulation with a minor, regardless of consent, carries penalties depending on the age difference between you and the minor.
- Sexual Battery: Touching another person’s intimate parts without consent with the intent of gratification constitutes sexual battery, which may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
- Rape: Non-consensual intercourse involving penetration, committed through fraud, force, or threats, constitutes rape and carries severe penalties.
Charges related to oral copulation by force or fear require aggressive defense strategies to avoid serious legal consequences. Consulting a skilled criminal defense attorney is essential when facing these charges.
If you or a loved one is charged under California Penal Code 288a, it’s vital to seek competent legal representation promptly. The attorneys at The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney are here to help. Contact us today at 310-564-2605 to discuss your case and explore your options.