| Read Time: 3 minutes

Oral copulation is legal in California. However, there are limits. You cannot force someone to perform an act of oral copulation, and you cannot engage in oral copulation with a minor. 

Allegations of illegal copulation are grave. You will need a tough, committed, and accomplished criminal defense lawyer to help you.

In San Diego County and Southern California, criminal defense attorney Kerry L. Armstrong and his staff of dedicated criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, are willing to fight for you and protect your best interests.

What Is Oral Copulation?

If you are not familiar with the term, you may wonder: What is oral copulation? 

California Penal Code §287(a) defines oral copulation as an act of “copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ or anus of another person.”

Copulation means engaging in sexual intercourse, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. So oral copulation is another term for oral sex.

Is Oral Copulation Illegal in California?

Oral copulation is legal between two consenting adults.

An adult is a person 18 years of age or older under California law. However, not every instance of oral copulation is lawful among adults. 

Forcible copulation is a felony.

Forcible copulation is when one person uses force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person to get the second person to participate in the act.

Threatening retaliation for not performing the act is also forced copulation under the statute.

Additionally, felony oral copulation occurs when a victim cannot consent because of voluntary or involuntary intoxication, unconsciousness, mental incapacity, physical disability, or succumbing to fraudulent behavior. 

The prison sentence for these offenses is three, six, or eight years. There is a fine of up to $10,000 as well. 

What Is Oral Copulation with a Minor?

Oral copulation with a minor in California is usually a felony.

However, the charge is a wobbler offense, meaning it could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony—depending on the circumstances. 

According to Penal Code section 287(b)(1), an act of oral copulation when one participant is under 18 can either be a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in jail. You are more likely to face a misdemeanor charge if you do not have a criminal record and the facts are not egregious.

However, you could get a state prison sentence of either 16 months, two years, or three years if the District Attorney’s Office decides to pursue felony charges against you.

The judge could also choose to place you on probation instead of putting you in jail. 

If one of the participants is older than 21 and the victim is younger than 16, oral copulation on a minor is automatically a felony charge.

The offense carries a penalty of either 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison. 

The potential imprisonment for oral copulation with a minor increases to a three, six, or eight-year prison sentence if the victim is younger than 14 and the alleged perpetrator is at least 10 years older than the victim. 

Oral Copulation of a Minor with Force

The element of force or fear increases the potential penalties significantly.

Oral copulation committed under the threat of force or violence with a person younger than 14 years old carries either an 8, 10, or 12-year period of incarceration.

Oral copulation accomplished by the threat of force or violence on a minor older than 14 carries a sentence of either 6, 8, or 10 years.

Collateral Consequences of a Conviction

Any conviction for oral copulation can cause severe difficulties in your life. In addition to the potential criminal penalties, you will have to register as a sex offender.

Sex offender registration in California means you have to register every year for 10 years, 20 years, or life depending on the facts of your case.

If you are not a citizen of the U.S., then you could face immigration problems such as deportation, exclusion from the U.S., or denial of your naturalization rights.

Even if you do not have potential immigration troubles, you might have difficulty finding a job or obtaining adequate housing. 

Speak with an Award-Winning Defense Lawyer from the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC.

San Diego criminal defense specialist Kerry L. Armstrong and his highly-regarded defense team have over forty years of trial experience.

With over 100 criminal jury trials to their credit, Kerry Armstrong and his staff have earned the accolades bestowed upon them.

Kerry has won the Trial Attorney of the Year Award, and senior associate Dan Greene has won it as well. Kerry and his associates have also won several awards for client service and effective advocacy. 

Call 619-393-5797 or go online to contact the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today for more information.

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.

Rate this Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars