After being charged with a sex crime, you need an attorney with a proven track record of handling these allegations.
For the past 15 years, San Diego criminal defense attorney Vikas Bajaj has successfully defended those accused of committing a sex offense. Moreover, he is the only attorney in California history to have a client facing life in prison for child molestation declared factually innocent by the court. If you have been arrested or are under investigation, call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC immediately for a free consultation.
Experienced Child Molestation, Lewd Conduct, Rape, Indecent Exposure Lawyer in San Diego
There may be few things in life as frightening and anxiety-producing as being charged with a sexual offense. The penalties in San Diego and across the nation are extremely harsh, bringing serious social stigma as well. While most criminal charges afford the benefit of being innocent until proven guilty, sex crime offenses can cause strangers—not to mention co-workers, friends, and family members—to proclaim your guilt before you’ve even stepped into a courtroom.
In fact, if you are charged with a sex crime, you may find your lawyer is the only person firmly and completely on your side. When the stakes are this high, hiring a highly experienced legal team should be your top priority during an investigation or following your arrest.
We Defend Against All Sex Crimes Allegations
Sex crimes can encompass everything from a misdemeanor such as indecent exposure, or a felony, categorized as serious and violent. Throughout San Diego County, we have defended against all sex offenses including:
- Child Molestation
- Child pornography
- Date rape
- Indecent exposure
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Public indecency
- Pandering and Pimping
- Sexual assault of a minor
- Sexual assault
With the advent of the Internet, computer sex crimes are also becoming increasingly common. Internet sex crimes include such things as:
- Distributing sexually explicit materials to a minor;
- Online sexual harassment;
- Meeting a minor as a result of an online solicitation;
- Possession of online child pornography;
- Distribution of online child pornography;
- Solicitation of a minor to engage sexual acts;
- Sexual webcam offenses;
- Lewd chat room or instant messages (teen/minor sexting), and
- Online solicitation of prostitution.
California Sex Crimes Law Overview
The California Penal Code covers a wide variety of crimes that are deemed to be sexual in nature. The punishment ranges from misdemeanor to felony, with the most critical distinction being whether a conviction requires lifetime sex offender registration.
For example, child molestation will always be charged as a felony, while sexual battery and statutory rape can be charged as felony or misdemeanor.
Child Molestation, Sex with a Minor Charges
Of all the sex crime charges, child molestation charges are likely the most serious. Under California Penal Code §288.7(a), any person 18 years or older who has sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years or younger is guilty of a felony. A conviction of this crime means life in prison and mandatory sex offender registration.
Under PC § 288.7(b), anyone over 18 who engages in oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years old or younger shall be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
It is extremely important that you not be passive if accused of sex with a minor. Immediate action may be the only protection you have. Never admit to something you did not do, even if it seems like it would be the best course of action in order to put the allegations behind you.
Avoid making any statement until you have had the opportunity to speak to an attorney. Even if the police tell you that you have not been charged and that they “just want to talk,” invoke your right to counsel and immediately get help from an experienced lawyer.
Even a statement of denial can cause you grief later on. As an example, denying you touched a child inappropriately could be misinterpreted, and even the simplest statement, like admitting you talked to the child at a time you were alone, can be used against you.
As hard as it may be, never lose your temper with those involved in your case. Obviously, if you are innocent, you will be angry about the situation, however losing control with a social worker, police officer or other authority figure will not help your case. While facing allegations of child sexual abuse or molestation, it is best to refrain from speaking with anyone until you have first spoken to a San Diego child molestation attorney.
Other Types of Common Sex Crime Allegations
Beyond child molestation charges, we often defend against the following charges:
Sexual Battery (California Penal Code §243.4):
This involves non-consenual touching the intimate part of another person while the victim is unlawfully restrained for the sole purpose of sexual arousal. Sexual battery also involves forcing another person to touch you for sexual gratification. The most common defense to this allegation is that the alleged victim consented.
This can be charged as misdemeanor or felony, and may require sex offender registration.
Lewd Acts on a Child (California Penal Code §288(a)):
This is touching a child in an intimate way or coercing a child to commit a sex act for the purpose of sexual arousal. The age of the child affects the punishment.
- If the child was 14 or younger, the punishment is 8 years in prison (10 years if force was used).
- If the child was 14 or 15, and the alleged perpetrator was 10 years older, then the punishment is up to 3 years in prison.
- If the minor was 16 or 17, then you would be prosecuted for sexual battery or statuary rape.
If convicted of this crime (regardless of the age of the victim), you will be required to register as a sex offender for life (PC § 290).
Statutory Rape (California Penal Code §261.5):
This is unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18, who is not the spouse of the perpetrator. This sex crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the age gap between the perpetrator and the victim. If the victim is not more than three years older or younger than the perpetrator, this will be charged as misdemeanor.
If the gap is more than 3 years, then it’s a wobbler and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. If a person 21 or older engages in act of sexual intercourse with a minor 16 or younger, then it is also a wobbler. A conviction under Penal Code § 261.5 does not require sex offender registration.
While consent is not a defense to this crime, a reasonable mistake of fact is. For example, assume you met someone at a bar and had sex them, but then found out they were under 18 at the time. Your attorney could argue that you made a reasonable mistake, given that a person is supposed to be 21 to enter a bar.
Rape (California Penal Code §261):
In the broadest sense, rape is intercourse with another adult without their consent. Rape is an umbrella term that encompasses date rape, statutory rape, and molestation. The defendant could have use force, threat, violence, or deceit to coerce the other adult into sexual intercourse.
Rape is punishable in state prison for 3, 6, or 8 years (Penal Code § 264). The punishment is more if the victim was minor.
Indecent Exposure (California Penal Code §314):
Showing your genitals to another person with the purpose of sexual arousal or offense. A first time conviction for indecent exposure may result in up to 6 months in jail. Far worse, a conviction under this statute requires lifetime registration.
Police Tactics During a Sex Crimes Investigation
During the early phases of a sex crimes investigation you may be contacted by San Diego law enforcement officials. They may try to put you at ease by telling you that they “just want your side of the story.” They may even request you take a polygraph to “clear your name.”
Be warned that it is not in your interest to speak to the police. They are solely gathering evidence to use against you.
The second you become aware of an investigation, contact San Diego criminal lawyer Vikas Bajaj to discuss your case. If the police do make contact with you, inform them that you do not wish to make a statement and that you will be retaining an attorney.
False Allegations of Sex Crimes
Allegations of sex crimes often result from a divorce, a child custody dispute, or even following a bad breakup. The San Diego courts have a significant number of innocent men who were set up by someone they once loved and trusted. Even though there may be little physical evidence, an overzealous San Diego prosecutor will work hard—with the benefit of the state’s many resources—to convict, based solely on circumstantial evidence.
If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime it is extremely important you preserve any physical evidence in your possession related to the alleged victim and your relationship with that person. Any letters, e-mails or records which could show where you were at the time of the incident as well as phone, GPS and computer records could be extremely important. Any person you believe might have information about the accusations or the child, if you have been accused of child molestation, can help your attorney more fully defend your charges.
Potential Defenses to Sex Crimes Allegations
To avoid the harsh penalties associated with a sex crime conviction, it is crucial to have a highly effective legal defense familiar with the San Diego courts and judges.
The approach and defense strategies used to defend those accused of a sex crime are very different from those used in other areas of criminal law. Of course the defense used in your particular case will depend on the circumstances surrounding your charges. That being said, some of the more common defenses used in these cases include:
- Accuser motivation. In the case of false accusations, your attorney will work hard to find the motivation behind those allegations. The motivations and background of the accuser are highly relevant to sex crimes defense, requiring a thorough, proper investigation as well as the use of psychological experts who may be able to uncover the facts which will assist in your defense.
- Evidence suppression. In some instances, photographs, computer files or other records may have been taken from your home or automobile. The police must follow very strict search and seizure guidelines, therefore if any evidence was obtained illegally, that evidence cannot be used against you in court. A motion to suppress can be an effective weapon in the hands of an experienced San Diego sex crimes attorney.
- Biased or suggestive interview when children are involved. Sometimes known as “taint,” a child can be “led” into allegations when a police officer, parent, teacher or therapist asks the child leading questions (“Daddy touched you in your private parts, right?”) The adult may not even be aware he or she is asking such suggestive comments to the child. An attorney who has experience recognizing and challenging tainted evidence is crucial.
- In the case of rape and certain other sex crimes, potential defenses could be: witness misidentification, the physical inability of the accused to commit rape or consent on the part of the “victim.”
- In the case of computer sex crimes, potential defenses could include: the computer is not yours, or is used by multiple people, you had no knowledge of the crime being committed with the computer, or the computer was illegally seized from your home.
Criminal Penalties for a Sex Offense Conviction
Being convicted of a sex crime could bring a very long prison sentence, during which you become a target for other inmates.
Whether you are sentenced to prison or not, a guilty verdict could result in mandatory sex offender registration for life. If that happens, you lose the ability to live and work in the neighborhood of your choice. In other words, being convicted of a sex crime will impact every aspect of your life going forward.
The penalties for a sex crime depend heavily on the crime charged as well as prior criminal history. In other words, the crime of prostitution will, of course, have lesser criminal penalties than the crime of child sexual abuse.
In some more serious cases, a conviction can count as a strike on your criminal record. If the conviction is serious enough to be labeled a “one-strike” case, the penalties could be as high as 25 years to life.
A conviction of sexual assault, as well as a conviction for a number of other sex crimes could result in:
- Jail or prison time,
- Lifetime sex offender registration and tracking pursuant to California Penal Code §290,
- Mandatory HIV testing could also be a requirement of the court, as well as counseling
Other common consequences for conviction of a sex offense include non-criminal penalties such as:
- Loss of your right to vote or own a firearm,
- Loss of child custody and visitation,
- Loss of employment or inability to secure employment,
- Inability to rent a home or obtain a government student loan, and
- Inability to obtain a professional license
Sex Offender Registration – Megan’s Law
Beyond jail time, perhaps the most far reaching and damaging consequence of a sex crimes conviction is having to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life. This means registering as a sex offender once leaving prison, and renewing your registration every year within 5 days of your birthday going forward.
As mentioned, sex offender status makes it nearly impossible to live or work anywhere. Your information including a picture and address will be listed on the Megan’s Law website. If your children live with you, you will need to get special permission from the court so that they can continue living with you.
Call San Diego Sex Crimes Attorney Vikas Bajaj For Immediate Assistance
Having an attorney who has a clear understanding of the consequences of a sex crime conviction is crucial once you have been charged with a crime. Your attorney will know that not only will you suffer serious, long-term repercussions, but your family will as well.
San Diego sex crimes lawyer Vikas Bajaj will ensure the prosecution is made aware of any exculpatory evidence and seek a dismissal before charges are filed. If trial becomes necessary, rest assured that Mr. Bajaj will aggressively fight any allegations and is prepared to take your case to trial. Don’t try to face sex crime charges on your own—call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today.