California Penal Code 287(a) defines oral copulation by force or fear as engaging in oral sex with another person without their consent. Before you face a conviction under this statute, it must be evident that you accomplished the act of using fear or force against the alleged victim.
California law is stringent on individuals facing charges for sex-related offenses. If you face a conviction for forcible oral sex, you risk spending significant time in jail, hefty fines, and sex offender registration.
The laws governing sex offenses in California are complicated. Therefore, you must hire and retain a competent sex defense attorney throughout your case. If you face charges for violating CPC 287(c) in Los Angeles, CA, you will benefit from the legal guidance and representation we offer at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney.
An Overview of Oral Copulation by Fear/Force in California
Engaging in consensual oral sex is legal in California. However, when you use force or fear to engage in oral copulation with another person, you could be arrested and charged with forcible oral copulation under California PC 287(c). When you face charges under this statute, you must understand that you are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution has a burden to establish the following elements of the crime to secure a conviction:
1) You Engaged in Oral Sex with Another Person
California law defines oral copulation as making contact between one person’s mouth and a sexual organ or anus of the other person. For a man, a sexual organ means the penis and scrotum, while in women, an intimate organ means the vagina. The extent of the touch is not a factor in this case. Slight touching of a private part with the mouth can suffice under this statute. Evidence of sexual penetration is not necessary for the prosecutor to secure a conviction under this statute.
2) You did not have consent from the Other Party.
Oral copulation becomes a crime when you do it without the other person's consent. For most sex offenses in California, lack of consent is a significant element in proving guilt. A person is said to have given their consent if they:
- Acted freely and voluntarily during the act.
- Understood the act to which they are consenting.
Consent could be given or withdrawn at any time. You are legally expected to stop if a person withdraws their consent in the middle of the oral sex. Failure to do this could result in a conviction under PC 287(c). It is essential to understand that you might be considered to have lacked consent even when you were dating or were married to the alleged victim.
3) You Engaged in Oral Sex by Fear or Force
The last element that the prosecution must prove before proving your guilt under this statute is that you accomplished the act of oral copulation by using force or fear on the victim. The element of force or fear consists of the following:
- You used the bare minimum force to overcome the alleged victims will
- You threatened to use force toward the victim, and your actions could have made a reasonable person engage in something against their will.
- You used a direct or implied threat of violence.
- You threatened to retaliate against the victim for not consenting to the act.
Forcible Oral Sex with an Intoxicated Person
If you perform oral sex on a person under alcohol or drug influence, you could still face charges under this statute. PC 287(c) charges apply under the following circumstances:
- The victim was too intoxicated to consent to the act
- You knew or should have known that the victim was drunk and could not understand the nature of the act
Since most sexual encounters occur when one or all involved parties are intoxicated, the prosecutor must work to prove that the victim's level of intoxication was beyond usual.
Oral Copulation with a Disabled Person
You can be charged with oral copulation by fear or force if the victim of your actions is disabled. A physically or mentally incapacitated person is considered to lack the capacity to consent to a sexual act. The only thing the prosecutor needs to show in such a situation is that you know the victim’s condition. Additionally, it should be clear that the victim’s disability prevented them from understanding the act.
Oral Sex that Involves an Unconscious Victim
Like an intoxicated person, an unconscious person lacks the mental capacity to consent to oral sex. Therefore, engaging in oral sex with an unconscious person attracts criminal charges for oral copulation by force or fear. A victim does not need to be medically unconscious. The only evidence required for a conviction is that the person was unaware of the act.
Penalties for Violating California Penal Code 287(c)
Oral copulation by force or fear is a felony offense under California law. The penalties that accompany a conviction under this statute include:
- Felony probation
- A prison sentence of three, six, or eight years
- Fines that do not exceed $10,000
If the victim of your crime is a minor, your prison time could be increased to ten or twelve years, depending on the victim's age.
You may face an enhanced penalty if you commit the crime of forcible oral copulation with another person. These penalty enhancements apply whether you participated in the act or aided the other person in committing the crime. The potential penalties for forcible oral sex in concert include:
- Five, seven, or nine years in prison when the victim is a minor
- Eight, ten, or twelve years in prison for victims between fourteen and seventeen years
- Ten, twelve, or fourteen years when the victim is below fourteen years
Felony Probation for PC 287(c)
Felony or formal probation is an alternative sentence issued to defendants who face a felony conviction in California. Facing a probation sentence after a conviction for forcible oral sex allows you to spend part of your prison sentence on community supervision. Probation is not automatic, and not all defendants facing charges under this statute meet the eligibility criteria. You will need a skilled sex defense attorney to negotiate with the prosecution and secure this sentence. Some of the factors that could affect your eligibility for felony probation include the following:
- Your criminal record. If you have several prior felony convictions on your record, the prosecution may deny your request for formal probation and place you in prison.
- Your attitude towards probation. A probation sentence is optional. If it does not serve your interests, you can decide to serve your sentence and move on. Additionally, the court may check your previous conduct and performance on probation. You may not be eligible if you have a probation violation history.
- The severity of your offense. An injury is not required to prove that you committed a crime of oral copulation by force or fear. However, the exact way you committed the offense could affect your chances of a probation sentence.
Felony probation for oral copulation by force or fear lasts for three to five years, and the following conditions may be attached to your probation:
- Constant meetings with your probation officer where you can report your progress
- Sex offender counseling
- Performance of community service
- Completion of a treatment program
- Avoid committing other crimes while on probation
Failure to follow through with the probation conditions may result in revocation of the probation and reinstatement of your original or maximum prison sentence for your crimes.
Sex Offender Registration for Forcible Oral Copulation
One of the most severe consequences of a PC 287(c) conviction is the requirement to register as a sex offender in California. There are three main tiers in the sex offender registry:
- Tier one is assigned for less severe offenses and requires you to maintain the sex offender status for up to ten years
- Tier two is for mid-level sex crimes and requires registration for twenty years
- Tier three is reserved for serious and violent felonies. A conviction that falls under this tier will require lifetime registration.
A conviction for oral copulation by force or fear is a tier-three sex offense. Therefore, you may need to retain the sex offender status for a lifetime. Every time you change location, you must update your sex offender statutes. Registering as a sex offender is accompanied by severe social stigma. The registration means you cannot live close to schools or parks, and your entry to some locations is restricted. Additionally, police officers will call you for investigations every time a crime is committed in your area. Therefore, it is essential that you vigorously defend against these charges to avoid a conviction.
Defending Penal Code 287(c) Charges
The consequences of a conviction for oral copulation by for or fear are severe. Therefore, the only way to escape these harsh consequences is to hire a skilled attorney to help you build a defense. A knowledgeable sex defense attorney can gear your defense towards reducing your charges or a dismissal. The following are some of the defenses applicable to your PC 287(c) case:
There is no evidence of physical harm needed to prove that you committed a crime of oral copulation by fear. This makes it easy for anyone to fall victim to false accusations under this statute. Most sex offenses do not occur during the day, and there may be no witnesses. Therefore, a person driven by jealousy, anger, or a need for revenge can bring these charges without a base. With the help of your lawyer, you can uncover the basis of the false accusations and prove your innocence to the court.
The Victim consented
One key element that defines forcible oral sex is a lack of consent from one of the parties engaging in the act. If you argue that the alleged victim gave their consent to engage in oral sex, the prosecution will have a challenging task to disapprove of that fact. In California, the prosecution shoulders the burden of proof in your case. Therefore, they must provide sufficient evidence to indicate that consent wasn’t issued.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
Unlike other sex offenses like rape, no physical evidence is needed to prove oral copulation by force or fear. However, the prosecutor must still establish all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt before you are convicted. In most cases, PC 287(c) charges are based on testimony from the alleged victim and your defense. You can avoid a conviction under this statute by arguing that the prosecutor lacked enough evidence to prove your case.
The statute of Limitations has Elapsed.
Victims of sex crimes do not have a strict timeline to report the crime. The law understands that it is difficult for victims to speak out about the tarrying ordeals. Victims often have up to ten years to report oral copulation by fear or force. If the statute of limitations has elapsed, you cannot be charged or convicted for the offense.
Expunging a PC 287(c) Conviction
The consequences of a conviction for forcible oral copulation and severe and long-lasting. With this conviction in your record, employers can discriminate against you, and obtaining a state license may be challenging/ Additionally, the social stigma associated with a sex offense conviction could take a toll on your life. Fortunately, you do not have to deal with the disabilities of your conviction for a lifetime. Some legal ways to avoid these consequences include expunging and sealing the record.
Under California PC 1203.4, an expungement is a legal proceeding that allows a person sentenced for a felony or misdemeanor to change their verdict of guilty or no contest to not guilty. If the court allows you to expunge the PC 287(c) conviction, you will not have to deal with the consequences associated with the conviction. Although expunging a record does not erase it from the records, it cannot be used against you.
Although an expungement offers numerous benefits to a defendant, not everyone is eligible for this post-conviction relief. Your chances of receiving an expungement are higher if the following is true about your case:
- You did not serve prison time. You can expunge a conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor. However, you must not have served any time in state or federal prison for the underlying crime.
- You completed your probation successfully. Probation is successful when you have served the entire term and have followed through with all your probation conditions.
- You do not have pending charges.
- You have aided all the court fines and restitution associated with the underlying offense.
- You are not on probation for another offense.
In California, expunging a criminal conviction involves filing a court petition and attending a hearing. Before filing a petition, it is vital to consult a criminal lawyer to gather all necessary documentation. Some of the benefits you will accrue from expunging your PC 287(c) conviction include the following:
- You will be eligible for state licenses
- You can truthfully answer no when asked about prior convictions
- Employers cannot discriminate against you based on an expunged conviction
- You cannot suffer impeachment as a witness in court
- You have more peace knowing that you have made an effort to put your past behind you
Offenses Related to Oral Copulation by Force /Fear
Forcible oral sex is one of California's most serious sex offenses. Some of the offenses related to forcible oral copulation include:
Under California PC 261, rape is the crime you commit when you engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse with another person. When you face criminal charges under this statute, the prosecution must establish the following elements:
- You engaged in the act of sexual intercourse
- You were not married to the alleged victim at the time of the act. If you engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse with a spouse, you could be charged with spousal rape.
- The alleged victim did not consent to the act.
- You accomplished the act using force, fear, violence, or threats
If you engaged in forcible oral sex and non-consensual sexual intercourse, the prosecution could file charges under PC 261 and PC 287(c). Rape is always charged as a felony in California. A conviction, in this case, will attract the following penalties:
- A prison sentence of three, six, or eight years
- Fines that do not exceed $10,000
- A strike under California's three strikes law
- Lifetime sex offender registration
A conviction for rape and forcible oral copulation can see you spend a significant amount of time behind bars. Therefore, seeking legal guidance to fight the charges is critical.
Oral Copulation with a Child
California PC 288(a) defines oral copulation as engaging in oral sex with a child. In California, children cannot legally consent to any sexual act. The elements that the prosecutor must prove to establish your guilt under this statute include:
- You participated in oral sex. Oral sex involves contact between one person’s mouth and another person’s genitals or anus.
- The alleged victim was a minor. Any form of sexual contact with a child under eighteen years is criminal.
Oral copulation with a child can be charged as a felony or a wobbler. Some factors that help dictate the nature of the charges are your criminal history and the alleged victim's age. The prosecution will charge oral copulation as a wobbler if a victim is sixteen years or older. Wobbler offenses are charged as felonies or misdemeanors.
A misdemeanor conviction of oral copulation with a juvenile is punishable by one year in jail and a fine that does not exceed $1,000. On the other hand, a felony conviction will attract felony probation, prison time ranging from sixteen months to three years.
If a victim is younger than sixteen and you were over twenty-one years at the time of the crime, the prosecution will file felony charges. As a straight felony, engaging in oral sex with a child is punishable by a sentence of three, six, or eight years.
Sexual battery involves touching another person’s intimate parts without their consent and with the intention of sexual gratification. The crime of sexual battery is charged under California Penal Code 243.4, and a conviction attracts severe penalties. Actions that are considered a violation of California battery laws include:
- Forcing someone to touch you or touch another person unlawfully. Use of force means that you acted against the other person's will.
- Unlawful touching of someone who is under medication or disabled for sexual gratification. A mentally or physically disabled person cannot defend themselves from inappropriate touching.
- Touching another person sexually when the person refrains
- Touching another person under pretense. This involves faking situations to gain access to another person’s private parts.
Sexual battery is a wobbler. The crime can attract misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances. As a misdemeanor, sexual battery attracts a one-year jail sentence of up to $3,000. On the other hand, a felony conviction under this statute is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from three to five years, a maximum of $10,000 in fines, and a lifetime sex offender registration.
Find a Reliable Sex Crime Defense Attorney Near Me
If you use force, the violence of fear to engage in oral sex with another person against their will, you can be arrested and charged with violating California PC 287(c). The penalties for forcible oral copulation go beyond jail time and fines. The court will order that you register as a sex offender, and the conviction remains in your public criminal record. For this reason, it is vital that you aggressively fight the charges. In California, criminal convictions are a public record. Therefore, this conviction will appear on your background checks and can be used to discriminate against you.
Often, sex crimes like forcible oral sex are based on incomplete evidence, unreliable witness testimony, and false allegations. Therefore, your arrest will not always result in a conviction. With the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, you can build a solid defense to fight the charges and obtain the best possible outcome in your case. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we offer top-notch legal guidance for our clients battling PC 287(c) charges in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today at 424-333-0943.