What is the Statute of Limitations for Oral Copulation with a Minor? (PC 288a)
A statute of limitations is essentially a time limit on prosecuting someone for a crime. If you are not charged for a crime within the statute of limitations, you cannot legally be charged for that crime.
These statutes of limitations exist in order to protect the integrity of the judicial process. As time passes, witnesses’ memories fade and evidence deteriorates, and it becomes more difficult to convict someone of a crime.
So, if you were being investigated for oral copulation with a minor and you were never formally charged, should you be living in fear that you could still be charged at any time?
Oral Copulation with a Minor (PC 288a)
Under California Penal Code Section 288a, the illegal act of oral copulation is defined as any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the sexual organ or anus of another person. If your act of oral copulation involved a minor, you could be charged with a crime under PC 288a.
Oral copulation with a minor is considered a “wobbler” offense in California, which means it could be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor oral copulation with a minor, you face a sentence of up to 364 days in county jail. Felony PC 288a is punishable by up to nine years in prison. A conviction under PC 288a also subjects you to lifetime registration as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290.
Statute of Limitations for PC 288a
Now that you know the penalties for oral copulation with a minor, you need to understand when you can be charged. There is a statute of limitations for PC 288a, and you can’t be charged with the crime if that statute of limitations has expired.
For misdemeanor oral copulation with a minor, you must be charged within one year from the date of the alleged incident. However, the statute of limitations for felony oral copulation with a minor is much more complex.
Under California Penal Code Section 801.1, felony PC 288a must be prosecuted before the alleged victim’s 28th birthday. However, under California Penal Code Section 803(f), criminal charges can be filed within one year of any person making a report to law enforcement alleging he or she was the victim of a sex offense.
This means that someone of any age could tell police that he or she was the victim of oral copulation with a minor many years past the alleged incident. You could be charged with a crime in this circumstance if:
- All other eligible periods of limitation have expired,
- The allegation involves “substantial sexual conduct” as defined by Penal Code Section 1203.066 (which includes oral copulation), and
- There is independent information corroborating the allegation
The alleged victim making the report must show clear and convincing evidence of the allegation. The evidence must be admissible during trial and does not include the opinion of a mental health professional.
There is also an exception to the statute of limitations under California Penal Code Section 803(g). This “DNA Exception Rule” allows you to be prosecuted for a crime years after the incident occurred if your identity can be conclusively established through DNA testing. This exception only applies when:
- The offense was committed prior to Jan. 1, 2001, and biological evidence collected in connection with the offense is analyzed for DNA type no later than Jan. 1, 2004, OR
- The offense was committed on or after Jan. 1, 2001, and biological evidence collected in connection with the offense is analyzed for DNA type no later than two years from the date of the offense.
Contact the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Oral copulation with a minor is a serious crime that carries life-changing consequences. That is why you should contact our experienced sex crimes defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich if you or someone you know is being accused of this crime. Our skilled attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of sex crimes. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney wherever you work or live.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.