A crime against nature is typically a component of another sexual offense, such as a rape or molestation charge. While there are no specific crimes against nature law, they fall under the category of other sexual offenses. Crimes against nature are typically charged as sodomy. Sodomy laws are considered somewhat archaic and thus are controversial. These laws vary from state to state and enforcement of them may vary even between jurisdictions. The criminalization of consensual sodomy has recently been deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence et al. v. Texas (2003). Sodomy, as defined under California state law, is nontraditional sexual conduct, between the penis of one person and the anus of another, where traditional sexual conduct is defined as vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman. It is important to note that consensual sodomy is now legal in California. One important exception is sodomy with a minor, as minors do not have the legal capacity to consent to sodomy.
California's sodomy laws impose harsh sentences on defendants. Most sodomy convictions result in significant prison sentences. Under California sate law, those who engage in sodomy with a minor face up to one year in a county jail or state prison. This punishment will vary with the age difference between the two parties engaging in the act of sodomy. Anyone over the age of 21 who engages in an act of sodomy with a minor under the age of 16 may face a felony criminal charge. Anyone who engages in an act of sodomy with a minor less than 14 years of age, where the defendant is ten years the victim's senior, the defendant can face three, six, or eight years in a state prison. These significant prison sentences speak to the harsh ways sexual offenders are handled in the California criminal justice system.
Although consensual sodomy is legal, nonconsensual sodomy, like any other sexual acts, is not. Those who commit sodomy with a non-consenting victim can face three, six, or eight years in a state prison. If that victim is a minor at least 14 years of age, the defendant can face seven, nine, or 11 years in a state prison. If that victim was a minor under 14 years of age, the defendant can face nine, 11, or 13 years in a state prison. As you can see, sodomy charges come with harsh consequences in California. It is important to note that nonconsensual sodomy does not have to occur through means of force. Sodomy can be nonconsensual if the person it is being performed on is not mentally or physically capable of giving consent, is too intoxicated to give consent, is asleep, or is unconscious or unaware of the act taking place. If you are facing sodomy charges, either for sodomy with a minor, or nonconsensual sodomy, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. You may have options for your defense. For example, if you are being charged with sodomy with a minor, but you had good reason to believe that person was of age, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Similarly, if the victim really did consent, but claimed he or she did not, you may have a strong defense in court. Challenging sodomy allegations is difficult, but not impossible, and will be best handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Sexual crimes carry with them significant stigma in our society. A sodomy charge could prevent you from ever working with children, women, or other vulnerable populations. It can affect your job prospects and your eligibility for public assistance. For these reasons, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney before you appear in court. Sometimes false allegations are made and innocent people are charged with sexual crimes they did not commit. This is unfortunate given the severity of the punishments. It is important you consult with an attorney to ensure you are aware of on what basis you are being charged and what your options are for your defense. Sexual crimes are typically worth the investment to fight because of the long-lasting effects of such a charge, which could include life-long sexual offender registration under Megan's Law. Speak with an attorney if you are facing these charges to ensure your defense is strong.
Are you facing sodomy charges in the Tulare area? Contact California attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Our Visalia area legal team can assess your case and advise you on your defense options. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial to fight for your rights. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.