California Sex Crimes: Types of Sexual Abuse and Assault

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Types of Sexual Abuse & Assault in California

Types of Sexual Abuse & Assault in California

Dec 21, 2023

Survivors of sexual assault and abuse often struggle with long-term effects such as emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life. Coming forward to report a sex crime takes a great deal of courage, and Dordulian Law Group’s Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of survivors. But what is actually considered sexual assault under California law?

California Sex Crimes: Types of Sexual Abuse and Assault

Sexual assault‘ is a blanket term which can encompass various types of crime, including childhood sexual abuse, sexual battery, sexual harassment, rape, and more.

In the sections below, we have put together details on different types of sexual assault and abuse under California law. We’ve also provided information on how long you have to file a sexual assault lawsuit in California and how to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts).

What is Considered a Sex Crime Under California Law?

In general terms, a sex crime involves intentional or forceful intimate touching of another person without his or her consent. Any type of sexual or intimate contact requires consent under the law (and children/minors are unable to give consent). Additionally, it’s important to note that intent is important when defining a sex crime.

Accidental contact – such as brushing against someone accidentally in a crowded public area – would not necessarily constitute a sex crime under California law. Furthermore, not all sex crimes include physical contact.

For example, stalking (in-person as well as online), indecent exposure, child pornography possession, solicitation, and more are considered sex crimes under California law.

Is Sexual Assault the Same as Rape Under the Law?

Sexual assault is a term which may include various types of crime – such as sexual battery, forcible touching, unwanted touching or groping, unwanted kissing, etc.

Rape is defined under the law as an “act of sexual intercourse accomplished under” varying types of scenarios, including:

  • Against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another.
  • Preventing a person from resisting by an intoxicating or anesthetic substance, or a controlled substance, and this condition was known, or reasonably should have been known by the accused.
  • If a person is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act, and this is known to the accused.
  • If a person submits under the belief that the person committing the act is someone known to the victim other than the accused, and this belief is induced by artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the accused, with intent to induce the belief.
  • If the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim or any other person, and there is a reasonable possibility that the perpetrator will execute the threat.
  • If the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest, or deport the victim or another, and the victim has a reasonable belief that the perpetrator is a public official.

Date rape‘ is often referred to in a separate category, although the crime itself falls under rape as outlined above.

Spousal rape is also recognized under California law, as both partners must consent to a sexual act (even when legally married).

Statutory rape is defined under California Penal Code § 261.5 as an unlawful act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the person is a minor. California law defines a “minor” as a person under the age of 18 years and an “adult” as a person who is at least 18 years of age.

As a general rule, all forms of rape are considered sexual assault (while not all forms of sexual assault are considered rape).

How Long Do I Have to File a Rape or Adult Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

California opened a three-year window for survivors of adult sexual assault to file claims for crimes which occurred after January 1, 2009. Through the end of 2026, the Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act gives survivors of adult sexual assault a chance at justice for claims that would have otherwise been barred by the statute of limitations.

The law is also known as AB-2777, and if you are a victim of adult sexual assault, it’s strongly recommended that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible about filing your civil claim for financial compensation.

Civil lawsuits are able to be filed immediately under AB-2777, and waiting to come forward could have an adverse impact on your case and ability to secure justice – evidence can be harder to locate, witness statements can be less exact, perpetrators can move or die, etc.

Types of California Child Sexual Abuse

Types of California Child Sexual Abuse
A sexual act committed against a minor in California is considered a child sex crime (or childhood sexual abuse). Common types of childhood sexual abuse may include

  • Sodomy
  • Rape
  • Forcible touching
  • Oral copulation
  • Sexual battery
  • Child pornography (screening with a child present as well as possession/distribution)
  • Sex trafficking
  • Deepfake/Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA)
  • Abduction of a minor for the purposes of a sex crime
  • Sexual penetration not defined as intercourse under the law
  • Forced child prostitution
  • Forced marriage of a minor
  • Child molestation

Criminal penalties for child sexual abuse are often more severe when compared to adult sexual assault. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may also pursue justice in civil court, and under a new California law – the Justice for Survivors Act or Assembly Bill 452 (AB-452) – there is no longer a statute of limitations for crimes committed after the legislation takes effect at the beginning of 2024.

How to File Your Claim for Childhood Sexual Abuse

In California, while the new AB-452 law eliminates the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse, the legislation does not apply retroactively to past crimes. Any sex crime committed against a child after January 1, 2024, is no longer bound to the standard statute of limitations for civil claims.

For child sex crimes occurring before that date, survivors can make a claim for financial compensation by filing a civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) dedicated Glendale, California, child sexual abuse attorneys.

Deadlines for child sex abuse survivors’ civil lawsuits may include:

  • By the victim’s 40th birthday
  • Up to 10 years from the date of the incident
  • Within three years of the reasonable discovery of injuries stemming from that crime (including post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD)
  • Within five years of the discovery of the abuse

Additionally, the law states that in childhood sexual abuse cases where the victim is harmed as a result of “an effort to cover up past assaults,” survivors may be able to recover treble damages (triple the financial compensation awarded in a civil case).

Examples of damages that may be included in a child sexual abuse settlement of verdict include:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Medical expenses/counseling and therapy expenses
  • Lost wages or reduced future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Diminished quality of life

To speak with a member of the Dordulian Law Group Child Sex Abuse Division, contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM for a free and confidential consultation. DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, an aggressive former sex crimes prosecutor who obtained life sentences against countless sexual predators and now fights for justice in civil court on behalf of survivors.

Led by Dordulian, our team of experienced and proven childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault lawyers has secured substantial damages awards on behalf of survivors – including numerous multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Experience matters when choosing the right child sexual abuse or adult sexual assault attorney to handle your case. Don’t settle for less than DLG – we’re dedicated to working tirelessly in the pursuit of justice on your behalf, and there’s never any upfront fee for our expert legal representation. You pay nothing until after we’ve successfully secured a maximum financial damages award for your case.

Contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM to learn more about how we can help you with your child sexual abuse or adult sexual assault case.


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