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What Is Sodomy?

Posted in Criminal Defense,Sex Crimes on June 9, 2022

A crude but honest definition of sodomy is simply “anal sex.” In the state of California, sodomy is a crime when it occurs between an adult and a minor or if it occurs in the context of non-consensual anal sex between adults. “Anal sex” under California law involves the penetration of one person’s penis into the anus of someone else. 

California Penal Code Chapter 5, Section 286 PC states:

“Sodomy is sexual conduct consisting of contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another person. Any sexual penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime of sodomy.”

Sodomy: A Serious Offense

In California, sodomy is considered to be a serious offense, punishable with prison time and other penalties. Under Cal. Penal Code 286 PC, anal sex crosses the line into a criminal act if it is:

  • Engaged in with a minor.
  • Undertaken by the use of fear, violence, force or another type of extortion. Force requires exhibiting enough physical force to overcome the victim. Fear requires that the victim is reasonably and actually afraid.
  • Engaged in with a person unable to consent due to intoxication with drugs or alcohol or because the person has a physical or mental disability or disorder, or due to being unconscious. In order to give their legal consent, the person in question must (1) act freely and voluntarily and (2) understand the nature of the anal sex act.
  • Engaged in with an inmate in a correctional facility. 

Are There Legal Defenses to Sodomy?

Several legal strategies may hold true in a sodomy case, depending on the circumstances. Some of the most popular include: 

  • The defendant believed the sodomized victim was an adult. It must be shown that the defendant acted reasonably in believing that the victim was an adult. 
  • The victim is falsely accusing the defendant. It is not uncommon for people who are experiencing moments of jealousy, rage, or anger to accuse people of heinous crimes like sodomy as a means of enacting revenge or retribution. 
  • The victim was a willing participant in the sexual activity. If it can be proven that the accuser in a sodomy case participated freely and of their own will, then the defendant may be found not guilty. 

Sodomy: Penalties

Sodomy is generally prosecuted as a felony offense that is punishable by prison terms up to three years. There are also some instances in which sodomy can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, such as when sodomy occurs between inmates. Prosecutorial discretion generally dictates when lesser sodomy offenses are pursued as a misdemeanor instead of felony charges. 

Charged With Sodomy? 

Being charged with any sexually-based offense can be humiliating, frustrating, and scary. If you are facing sodomy charges, the nonjudgmental team with the Law Offices of Graham Donath is ready to help you move past this dark chapter in your life. With your liberty and freedom on the line, the importance of choosing a seasoned Riverside criminal defense attorney to combat these charges can’t be overstated. Reach out to our office to request a confidential consultation or call us in Riverside at 951-667-5293 or in Orange County at 714-758-5293