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You will need an aggressive and reputable criminal defense lawyer if you face sodomy charges under California Penal Code §286.

A conviction under this law could ruin your life.

California Penal Code section 286 charges carry significant prison time, and a conviction under this statute means you must register as a sex offender.

San Diego criminal defense attorney Kerry L. Armstrong and his associates at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, possess the knowledge and skill to provide you with unparalleled representation.

Dedicated to superior service and personal support, Kerry and his team have tried over 100 criminal jury trials in their collective 40+ years of defending people’s rights.

They understand what it takes to give you the best chance possible to minimize the impact a sodomy charge has on your life.

To schedule a free consultation, please contact us today. 

Is Sodomy Illegal in California?

California Penal Code section 286 describes sodomy as sexual contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another.

Sodomy occurs when the penis penetrates the anus, however slightly.

Between consenting adults, this behavior is not a crime. The act between adults becomes a crime if one person does not consent or when the act involves a person under 18.

California Penal Code Section 286 Charges

The legal age of consent in California is 18. Therefore, engaging in sodomy with anyone under 18 is a crime.

The issue of consent is irrelevant because a person under 18 cannot legally consent to engage in any sex act.

Therefore, consent is not a viable defense to this charge if it is based on the age of the victim. 

California criminal defense lawyers call this offense a “wobbler” because the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Your prior criminal history and the facts of the case determine whether the District Attorney’s Office charges you with a misdemeanor or a felony.

Penal Code section 286 says that the accused faces one year in the county jail if charged with a misdemeanor, or they can face confinement in state prison if charged with a felony.

The state prison term is 16 months, two years, or three years.  

As stated, consent is not a defense. But a skilled defense lawyer might be able to use certain facts to help you avoid a felony charge.

Felony Charges Under California Penal Code Section 286

Penal Code section 286 calls for increased penalties when there is a significant age difference between the parties or when the alleged assailant uses force.

Felony charges arise when one person is 21 or older and the minor is under 16. The charge carries a prison sentence of either 16 months, two years, or three years.

The prison sentence increases to three, six, or eight years if the victim is younger than 14 and the alleged perpetrator is 10 years older than the victim. 

When both parties are at least 18, but the act is accomplished by the threat of force, intimidation, fear of injury, violence, duress, or menace, the offense carries a three, six, or eight-year prison sentence.

The potential penalties increase substantially if the allegations involve a minor.

Committing sodomy upon a minor by force, intimidation, fear of injury, violence, duress, or menace increases the possible prison terms to 9, 11, or 13 years if the child is under 14.

The statute calls for incarceration in the state prison for 7, 9, or 11 years if the minor is 14 to 18 years old and there is an element of force.

Penal Code section 286 delineates other circumstances when an adult cannot consent or the law does not recognize consent because of the alleged perpetrator’s position in life.

There is no consent if the victim: 

  • Was voluntarily or involuntarily intoxicated, 
  • Suffered from a mental defect, 
  • Suffered from a physical incapacity, or
  • Could not consent because the victim was in the state hospital or committed to a penal institution. 

Additionally, a public official who threatens official action against the victim for withholding consent faces a felony charge. 

Collateral Consequences of a Conviction Under Penal Code Section 286

Having a felony conviction on your record can be devastating.

You could lose your job, experience difficulties finding adequate housing, lose out on educational opportunities, and lose your rights to vote or possess a firearm. 

There are other consequences of a sodomy conviction as well.

First, you must register as a sex offender. You will need to register for either 10 years, 20 years, or life depending on your circumstances.

Additionally, you could face harsh immigration consequences if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Contact a California Sex Crimes Attorney Today

Kerry L. Armstrong and his team at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, are seasoned and knowledgable sex crime defense lawyers.

They spend each day protecting the rights of people accused of crimes. They will work with you to give you the best chance to beat your case or to have it dismissed. 

Call the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong today at 619-234-2300 or contact us online to make an appointment. 

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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