San Bernardino Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer
In San Bernardino and the rest of California, sexual assault is not a specific crime or formal charge but may be used to refer to multiple different crimes that involve assault of a sexual nature. It is relatively common to hear the term “sexual assault” used interchangeably with terms like “rape” or “sexual abuse.” In California, any sexual assault that is nonconsensual can be charged as rape. Sexual assault charges are extremely serious and may carry very harsh penalties. The key element of sexual assault charges is a lack of consent from the victim.
If you have been accused of sexual assault or are facing sexual assault charges, you should immediately contact an attorney. The consequences of a sexual assault conviction may follow you for the rest of your life. Our San Bernardino sexual assault defense attorney can help you fight the charges against you and protect your rights. Contact Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law by calling (909) 861-8075 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation.
The Definition of Sexual Assault in San Bernardino, CA
“Sexual assault” is not classified as a formal charge in San Bernardino. However, California law explains that nonconsensual sexual assault of any kind may be classified as rape. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse accomplished under circumstances involving fraud, deception, or force. Rape can be committed in many different ways, all of which involve a lack of consent from the victim. For example, California law includes sexual intercourse with someone who cannot give consent due to a mental disability or impairment as rape. It is also rape when you have sexual intercourse with someone by use of force, threats, or violence, or you otherwise place the victim under duress.
Additionally, having sexual intercourse with someone who is unconscious or cannot perceive the act is rape. If you obtain consent by fraud or threats, this is still rape because the consent was not given willingly. Any penetration, no matter how slight, is sufficient to constitute rape.
Sexual assault in which the victim is a minor is classified separately from charges involving an adult victim. “Unlawful sexual assault” refers to sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 18. The difference between rape and unlawful sexual intercourse is that the latter can still be charged even if the victim consented. This is still a crime because a person under the age of 18 is not legally capable of consenting to sexual intercourse with an adult. You may have heard this referred to as “statutory rape.”
All charges of sexual assault should be taken very seriously. Contact one of our San Bernardino sexual assault defense lawyers to help you with your case.
How Consent is Defined in Sexual Assault Cases in San Bernardino
Consent, or the lack thereof, is a critical element of any sexual assault charges. The California Penal Code defines consent as “positive cooperation” and an act of free will. Consent must be given freely and voluntarily, and the person giving consent must know and understand the nature of the act they are consenting to. To put it more simply, a person must know what they are consenting to and give consent of their own free will.
There are a number of circumstances under which consent may be given, but it is not valid. If you obtain consent through fraud, deception, or false pretenses before having sexual intercourse, you may be guilty of sexual assault or rape. Consent is similarly invalid if it is obtained by using threats or intimidation.
A victim may ultimately consent to sexual intercourse, but if their consent was not given of their own free will, you could face sexual assault charges. One of our San Bernardino sexual assault defense lawyers will help you understand consent and how it relates to the charges you are now facing.
Penalties for Sexual Assault Charges in San Bernardino
Penalties for sexual assault charges will vary depending on the nature of the offense and some details about the victim. Generally, rape may be punished by either 3, 6, or 8 years in prison. However, rape or sexual assault charges involving a minor may be punished more harshly. If the victim is a minor of at least 14 years of age, a convicted defendant may be imprisoned for 7, 9, or 11 years. If the victim is younger than 14 years, the defendant may be imprisoned for 9, 11, or 13 years. Suppose the defendant is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, which involves certain sexual acts perpetrated against a minor under the age of 14 years. In that case, they will be guilty of a felony and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
If there are multiple victims, the defendant will face separate charges for each victim. If there is one victim, but there were numerous instances of sexual assault, the defendant will face one count for each individual incident. With each charge carrying potential prison terms of at least several years, a defendant may face decades behind bars if these penalties are served one after the other.
If you are facing sexual assault charges or accusations, it is crucial that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Our San Bernardino sexual assault defense attorneys will help you understand the charges against you and what kinds of penalties you could face. We will also help you mount the best defense possible for your situation and protect your rights throughout the criminal justice process.
Contact One of Our Skilled San Bernardino Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys
Sexual assault or rape charges can be intimidating, if not downright frightening, to deal with. Perhaps you believe the alleged victim consented to sexual intercourse and you do not understand why you are now being charged, or perhaps you were charged because of a misidentification. You should hire a skilled San Bernardino sexual assault defense lawyer to help you understand your case. Your lawyer will explain your charges, the possible penalties, and what your defense should be. To contact one of our San Bernardino sexual assault defense lawyers, call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (909) 861-8075 to set up a free, confidential legal consultation.