Penal Code 286 PC - Sodomy Laws in California
California Penal Code 286 PC makes sodomy a crime in certain situations, like when an adult commits sodomy on a minor or uses force, fear, or threats.
Sodomy is a sexual act involving any penetration involving the penis of one person and the anus of another.
The length of time of penetration occurred, or the degree to which it happened are not relevant factors in terms of the law, and ejaculation is also not required to be charged or convicted under this statute.
PC 286 says: “Sodomy is sexual conduct consisting of contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another person. Any sexual penetration, even slight, is sufficient to complete the crime of sodomy.”
An example of illegal sodomy is when a man performs anal sex on a woman after threatening to harm her unless she cooperates.
A violation of this law is considered a serious sex crime and could result in a sentence to state prison. In addition, PC 286 sodomy can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony, called a “wobbler.”
The crime of sodomy is divided by statute depending on the victim's age and whether the act was consensual. If two adults engage in sodomy consensually, it's not illegal. So when does sodomy become a crime? Let's review this state law further below.
When is Sodomy a Crime?
Sodomy must be performed between consenting adults voluntarily of their own accord. As noted, Penal Code 286 PC is the statute that specifically makes sodomy illegal, such as between a minor and an adult using threats, intimidation, force, etc.
Let's review specific subsections below that are illegal acts of sodomy:
- Penal Code 286(b)(1) PC sodomy with someone under the age of 18;
- Penal Code 286(b)(2) PC over 21 years old and engage in sodomy with a minor under 16 years old;
- Penal Code 286(c)(1) PC engages in sodomy with someone under 14, and the age difference is over ten years;
- Penal Code 286(c)(2)(A) PC sodomy against the victim's will using force, violence, duress, menace, or fear;
- Penal Code 286(c)(2)(B) PC sodomy with a minor under 14 done against their will using force, violence, coercion, or fear;
- Penal Code 286(c)(3) PC sodomy by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim or another person;
- Penal Code 286(d)(1) PC acting in concert with someone to commit acts of sodomy against the victim's will using force or fear;
- Penal Code 286(f) PC sodomy performed on someone incapable of giving consent, such as being unconscious or incapacitated, including mental disorders or physical disabilities.
Other statutes can be used to file charges for illegal acts of sodomy when someone is forced under duress, after threats, intimidation, or physically assaulted, and when sodomy is committed between fellow jail inmates.
What Are the Penalties for Sodomy?
Some sodomy crimes are “wobblers” that can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the case details and the perpetrator's criminal history.
A sodomy is a wobbler when it occurs with a minor (Penal Code 286b1 PC) or between jail or prison inmates (Penal Code 286e PC). If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
A felony conviction carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. In addition, in most cases, any sodomy conviction will require the defendant to register as a California sex offender.
In cases where a defendant is not guilty of sodomy or charges were never filed, the alleged victim has the legal right to file a civil lawsuit to receive compensation for medical bills, counseling, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost work.
What Are the Related Crimes?
- Penal Code 261 PC – rape;
- Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape;
- Penal Code 264.1 PC – gang rape;
- Penal Code 243.4 PC – sexual battery;
- Penal Code 288i PC – lewd acts with a minor;
- Penal Code 288.5 PC - continuous sexual abuse of a minor;
- Penal Code 289 PC – foreign object sexual penetration.
Of note is that PC 261 rape is always charged as a felony by a prosecutor and carries up to eight years in prison if convicted.
What Are the Defenses for PC 286?
There are some standard legal defenses against charges of sodomy which are discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue that there was a false allegation by the alleged victim. Perhaps they were a consenting adult. Maybe we can argue that the defendant did not know the victim's age.
However, we would need to uncover reasonable evidence to use a false allegations defense. If force is alleged, perhaps we can argue consent based on showing a prior relationship with the victim.
Perhaps we can use medical records to show a lack of physical evidence of the anal area. Maybe we can argue there was a mistake of age in cases where the victim is 14 years of age or over they lied about their age or appeared much older.
Perhaps we can argue that there was no anal penetration. To be convicted of sodomy, it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there was some penetration or contact between the penis of the perpetrator and the anus of the victim.
Maybe we can persuade the prosecutor not to file formal criminal charges (prefiling intervention). Perhaps we can negotiate to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, CA. Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation via phone or fill out the contact form.