The California Court of Appeals recently ruled that the trial court erred in failing to hold a hearing on the relevance of the alleged victim’s sexual conduct earlier in the day as an alternative explanation for her vaginal and oral injuries.

In People v. Fontana, 2010 D.A.R. 9255, the defendant was charged with sexual penetration by force under California Penal Code Section 289. The defendant admitted to strangling the victim but denied committing any sexual conduct. The defendant claimed that the victim conducted sexual activity earlier in the day with another person. The court did not hold a hearing on the admissibility of this issue. The court of appeals found that the trial court erred in not holding a hearing on the relevancy of the alleged victim’s sexual conduct. However, the court of appeals found that the error was not prejudicial since the court eventually held in a hearing, following a new trial motion which established the earlier sexual conduct could not have caused the vaginal injuries. The court of appeals affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Sexual penetration by force under California Penal Code Section 289 is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for up to eight years. A conviction for this crime will also result in mandatory sex offender registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act. See California Penal Code Section 290. The requirement to register lasts a lifetime.

If you or a loved one is facing a sex crimes charge, it is important that you speak with an experienced sex crimes attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our Southern California sex crime attorneys have over 30 years of experience. We will defend your rights and fight to keep you off of the sex offender registry. Call us today at (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.

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