May 8, 2014 By Stephen Klarich

When children come of age, they probably do not think about the consequences of their actions. They may think that because they are minors, they are exempt from certain laws. They may not realize that the state of California has laws that specifically regulate crimes committed by teenagers, especially in regards to sex. This is why it is crucial to have a legal sex talk with your child.

The following are areas of California law regarding sex crimes that your teenage child needs to know before he or she becomes sexually active.

Statutory Rape (PC 261.5)

Legal sex for minors is non existent.
Minors that engage in consensual sex are not having legal sex.

Under California Penal Code Section 261.5, a minor cannot legally consent to sex. In the state of California, the age of consent for sex is 18 years of age. A minor cannot use consent as a valid legal defense in a statutory rape case.

California Penal Code Section 261.5 also states that two minors who engage in sexual intercourse are not having legal sex and are committing statutory rape. Even if both minors consent, they could face statutory rape charges because California’s age of consent law does not legally allow minors to consent. However, a charge could only be made if the intercourse comes to the attention of law enforcement officials.

If the accused is not more than three years older than the victim, statutory rape is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.

If the accused is at least three years older than the victim and the victim is at least 16 years old, statutory rape can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and past criminal history. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, two years or three years in county jail and a $10,000 fine.

In addition to prison time and fines, a statutory rape conviction could result in lifetime registration as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290 and 290.006.

Sex in Public (PC 647(a))

Sex in public could lead to serious charges.
Having sex in public could lead to serious charges.

Teens sometimes go to public places to engage in what they believe to be legal sex because they do not wish to get caught by their parents. However, your teenage child needs to know that having sex in a public place could lead to serious charges.

Under California Penal Code Section 647(a), it is illegal to engage in lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place, like a beach, park or restroom. Law enforcement agencies have been known to go undercover and conduct sting operations in these places.

“Lewd or dissolute conduct” is engaging in oral sex, masturbation or any other form of sexual activity when you know or reasonably should that there is likely to be someone present or watching who would be offended by your conduct.

Lewd or dissolute conduct under California Penal Code Section 647(a) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.


Sexting is the sending or receiving of nude or sexually explicit images or videos by cell phone, email or social media. It is becoming more common for minors to sext nude or sexually explicit imagery to their boyfriends or girlfriends. However, this imagery constitutes child pornography in the state of California.

California does not have specific laws that regulate sexting among teenagers. However, teenagers who are found to be in possession of sexually explicit imagery or send sexually explicit imagery of a minor could be prosecuted under California’s general child pornography and exploitation laws.

Minors charged with non-violent crimes are usually allowed to have their cases heard in the juvenile court system instead of facing prosecution as adults. The juvenile court system is designed to educate and counsel minors instead of punish them.

Although they may not have to face the severe penalties of an adult felony possession of child pornography conviction, minors could face the following disciplinary actions from schools or juvenile courts for sexting:

  • Incarceration in juvenile hall;
  • Seizure of cell phones by school and by law enforcement;
  • Suspension from school;
  • Loss of academic and athletic opportunities;
  • Withdrawal of college acceptance offers; and
  • Court imposed community service and counseling.


Call the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorneys
Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorneys.

If your child is facing a charge for a sex crime, it is critical that you speak to an experienced sex crimes attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending persons accused of committing sex crimes. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

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