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  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

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Riverside Sex Crimes Lawyer

Sex crimes vary widely in scope, but they all can carry serious penalties. Choosing the right Riverside sex crimes attorney to represent after an accusation of sexual assault could have a measurable impact on your sex crime, assault or rape case. There are a spectrum of sexual acts the courts consider criminal, and, if you’ve been charged with such a crime, your future may hang on where the assault you’ve been accused of lands on the spectrum.

Don’t wait to contact an aggressive and reputable sex crimes attorney. If you are accused of sex crimes, contact our Riverside sex crimes lawyers immediately to build your defense. Schedule your free consultation with the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC today and continue reading below to see how your sex crime case may be handled.


What’s a Criminal Sex Act? 

To understand what constitutes a criminal sex act in California, consider the following list of general sex crimes and what each means.

  • Rape. When someone engages in sexual intercourse against the will of another. This falls under the arena of sexual assault. Even minors 18 and under can be charged with rape. Let’s say two minors have sexual intercourse with one other. If this is the case, in California they are both guilty of engaging in unlawful sex with each other. If you know a Juvenile who commits sexual offenses against minors, contact a Riverside juvenile crimes attorney right away.  
  • Indecent exposure. It is unlawful to purposely expose one’s genitals to another. In California, indecent exposure is a sex crime when someone engages in the act in an effort to intimidate, arouse, or insult another. When indecent exposure leads to physical contact, the crime may elevate to sexual assault. Indecent exposure often carries misdemeanor penalties for a first offense, but the courts may elevate this charge to a felony for subsequent offenses.
  • Prostitution. California prostitution laws make it illegal to engage in, solicit, or agree to sex for compensation. Police can charge either the person soliciting sex for compensation or offering it with a crime.
  • Sexual Assault. Sexual assault is when someone forces another to engage against his or her will in a sexual act. It does not have to be intercourse, but it is a crime to engage in non-consensual touching of any kind.
  • Statutory Rape. Statutory rape refers to any sexual act with an individual who is below the age of consent. There is no requirement of force for these acts since people below a certain age are unable to legally grant consent. In California, the age of consent is 18.
  • Child Pornography. In California, it is also a crime to transmit or disperse images of a minor under 18 years old. Sexual exploitation of a child carries maximum fines of $2,000 and/or time in state prison.

It’s important to note that a single act may lead to multiple charges of sex crimes. As a result, penalties can be cumulative.

The Sex Offender Registry in California

An early adopter, California became the first state to require registration of sex offenders in 1947. Anyone who has been convicted of certain sexual offenses must register with this system. The requirement lasts a lifetime. All the crimes outlined above subject a person for registering.

When sex offenders move, they must get in touch with the local authorities to update the registry within five days. If they to meet this requirement, it may be grounds for an additional criminal offense.

California was the nation’s first state to mandate sex offender registration and has enforced this rule from 1947 onward. The state requires individuals who have been convicted of certain offenses of a sexual nature to document themselves in the state’s sex offender registry. This requirement remains in place for the duration of the offender’s life.

With the passing of Megan’s Law in 1996, Penal Code 290.46, the information in the sex offense registry is public and widely available. Megan’s Law authorizes local law enforcement to notify the public when registered sex offenders move nearby and if they believe the offender to pose a risk to public safety. It may have devastating effects on a person’s professional and personal life, as it can have an impact on admittance to college, job prospects, dating, and more. It’s essential to retain the services of an experienced defense attorney who can lessen or plead to alternative charges that don’t require registration, if possible.

What Is Rape in California? | Penal Code 261 pc

California has a number of statutes that address rape. These rape laws criminalize sexual acts that occur without the consent of at least one of the participants. Rape is a crime in the broader category of sexual assault, which encompasses many more criminal offenses. When two people have sexual intercourse, the crime of rape might occur under California state law if any of the following apply:

  • The victim lacked the ability to consent, whether through age (under 18), developmental or intellectual disability, intoxication, or physical incapacity.
  • The victim was unaware that sexual intercourse was happening through unconsciousness or state of sleep or intoxication.
  • The victim reacted out of fear of immediate danger or bodily injury to another person.
  • The person perpetrating the act used intimidation, threats, or force.
  • The defendant made a fraudulent representation that led to intercourse.

If charged with rape, it’s in your best interest to hire an aggressive and respected Riverside rape defense lawyer. Rape cases carry severe penalties if convicted and require time and attention in preparation for court, two things a public defender may unfortunately not have given their heavy caseloads.

Penalties for Rape Crimes

Sentencing and penalties for rape depend on the severity of the crime, as well as the defendant’s prior criminal history. Generally, California state law punishes convicted rapists with imprisonment in a California state facility for a term of 3, 6, or 8 years. These sentences may increase when any of the following apply:

  • The victim is a minor over fourteen (sentence elevates to 7-11 years)
  • The victim is a child under 14 (sentence elevates to 9-13 years)
  • The victim worked in tandem with another person to commit rape.

Civil penalties may also apply to rape crimes when the victim is a minor. These fines range from $2,000 to $25,000.

State laws also provide special consideration for rape penalties when the victim and the perpetrator are less than three years apart. For example, a prosecutor may choose to pursue a misdemeanor or felony charge for statutory rape, depending on the defendant’s prior criminal history. The consequences may range from 1-3 years in county jail instead of a state penitentiary.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Rape falls under the broader category of sexual assault. For many individuals, this term can seem vague and confusing. Laws vary from state to state, but broadly speaking, sexual assault refers to any crime that results in a victim experiencing sexual touching that is unwanted or offensive. Examples of sexual assault include groping, assault and battery, attempted rape, and rape.

The California Penal Code prohibits any unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts. California law defines intimidate parts as any victims “sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.” When sexual assault leads to non-consensual intercourse, the crime elevates to rape.

Prosecution of Sexual Assault Charges

Sexual assault and battery (PC 243.4) is a “wobbler” crime under California law, which means the courts may consider it a felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanor sexual battery carries a punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,000. When a defendant is a victim’s employer, the fine raises to $3,000.

Felony sexual battery carries more severe penalties that depend on the nature of the crime and a defendant’s prior history. Penalties for imprisonment range from one to four years in prison and fines between $2,000-$10,000.

A conviction for Sexual Battery PC 243.4 is also not a “Strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law

Proving Sexual Assault Charges

Generally, sexual assault is involuntary sexual contact that occurs underuse of coercion, force, or a victim’s incapacity. California law considers victims too incapacitated when they do not have the mental or intellectual ability to understand the sexual acts. This also applies when a victim is incapable of indicating their willingness to participate in a sexual act. Examples of these may include the use of date rape drugs or having sex with someone who is incapacitated due to alcohol, both of which can make a victim unable to consent.

Sexual assault laws cover any nonconsensual misconduct between two or more individuals. They apply to people of any sex or age. For example, sexual assault laws apply between two minors, two women, two men, and so on.

To prove a case of sexual assault, the prosecution must provide, based on a preponderance of the evidence, the following occurred beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant touched a victim intimately while the victim was restrained, either by the defendant or another person. Touching may be direct or indirect (i.e., through the victim’s clothing).
  2. The touching was against the victim’s will – i.e., the victim did not consent to the sexual conduct.
  3. The defendant engaged or intended to engage in the sexual conduct for the purpose of sexual arousal, abuse, or sexual gratification.

Defenses for Sexual Assault

The most common defense for sexual assault is that the victim actually consented to the act. If the defendant can sufficiently prove that sexual conduct did not violate the victim’s will because he or she gave permission, then the prosecutor may have more trouble establishing all the legally-required elements of a sexual assault or battery. This defense cannot apply to crimes involving minors or when the individual lacks the mental capacity to consent.

Finding a Riverside Sex Crimes Attorney

Facing charges of a sex crime can be daunting. These crimes can not only lead to fines and imprisonment, they may affect an individual long after they’ve served their sentence. Registration on a sex registry can affect a person’s ability to find gainful employment, date, and even make friends. Whenever possible, it’s essential to plead to alternate charges that don’t require registration.

This is one of the aspects that makes hiring an experienced Riverside sex crimes lawyer is necessary. The right criminal defense attorney will walk you through your options and remain your advocate through a stressful process.

Unfortunately, even an accusation of sexual assault can have devastating consequences. Graham Donath has dedicated his entire career to protecting the rights of the accused. Let him fight for you, providing fair treatment in your case while standing up for you in court. For more information about our criminal defense services or to schedule a free case evaluation, please contact our Riverside sex crimes lawyers.


“I talked to at least 20 lawyers before I had the fortune to speak with Mr. Donath. Not a single one stood out. Only he did. Very smart and confident. No matter how many times I emailed him/ called him, he always provided answers. I am so fortunate to have had such luck finding this lawyer, All of the good reviews truly reflect his skills.” – Client