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What is Unlawful Sodomy?
The California Penal Code section 286 defines sodomy as “sexual contact that takes place between the penis of one person and the anus of another person.” It is important to understand that while sodomy, itself, was once a crime in California, the act is no longer a crime if if is consensual, following a decision by the United States Supreme Court.
The act is considered “unlawful sodomy” when it is performed without consent or against their will. The law also applies where the victim is legally considered unable to give consent, either because the victim is unconscious, too intoxicated, a minor, or physically or mentally incapable of consenting to the activity.
What are Unlawful Sodomy Laws in Los Angeles?
There are a number of ways a person could be found in violation of California Penal Code section 286 for unlawful sodomy. Though most violations would lead to a felony conviction, some of the charges are considered “wobbler laws,” and may be prosecuted as misdemeanors if the prosecutor chooses to do so. If the victim is over the age of 16 but under the age of 18 or if both parties are inmates or mental health facility patients, it is possible the prosecution may opt for a misdemeanor charge. A misdemeanor conviction often entails probation and may include up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.00.
Other acts of unlawful sodomy, however, could carry more severe probation, anywhere from 16 months to three years in a California state prison and as much as a $10,000 fine. These penalties may increase under certain, specific circumstances, such as the use of force or fear to commit the act or the victim being under the age of 14 years old.
Are there Defenses to Unlawful Sodomy?
As with most crimes, there are specific defenses that someone may choose to pursue if they are charged with unlawful sodomy. Some of these defenses, like having an alibi or that the victim made a false charge, are traditional defenses for a number of crimes. Others are specific defenses to a charge of unlawful sodomy. Since unlawful sodomy is limited to unwilling or non-consensual acts, if the alleged victim gave consent, a defendant can use this to challenge the charge. Mistakes of fact, including a reasonable belief regarding the alleged victim’s age, can also serve as a defense to the charge.
What Can Be Done to Help the Case?
If you or someone you know has been charged with unlawful sodomy in the Los Angeles area, there are certain proactive steps that can be taken right away. witnesses and potential alibis should be identified and important details or recollections should be noted. It can be surprising what information can ultimately save a case.
Perhaps one of the most important steps following a charge of unlawful sodomy is retaining a lawyer. Experienced Firms like ours know the ins and outs of the legal system, specifically the courts, judges and prosecutors in the Los Angeles area. Our knowledgeable attorneys can act not only as advocates but also give their assessments of the case and any plea deals that the prosecution might offer.