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Oral copulation with a minor is a crime under California Penal Code 287.  

Minors are legally incapable of consenting to sexual acts, so sexual acts with a minor are always illegal. This means that consent is not a defense to oral copulation with a minor since the age of consent in California is 18 years old.

These charges are very serious. California law requires any person convicted of a sex crime to register as a sex offender for life. 

Note that a criminal defense lawyer can potentially help you reduce or eliminate charges, so it’s crucial to consult with an experienced sex crimes defense attorney in California as soon as possible.

Contact us online or call (619) 234-2300 today for a confidential consultation.

What Is Oral Copulation of a Minor?

Penal code 287 defines oral copulation as “the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ or anus of another person.” Even slight contact can count as oral copulation.

The basic elements of the crime of oral copulation with a minor that the prosecutor must prove are:

  • You engaged in oral copulation with another person, and
  • The other person was under the age of 18.

In most cases, the penalty will be based on the relative ages of the victim and the accused.

If the victim is 16 or older or the accused is 21 or younger, then the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail. A felony conviction, on the other hand, carries a penalty of 16 months, two years, or three years in prison.

If the victim is under 16 and the accused is over 21, then the crime is always a felony. This can carry a sentence of sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison.

If the victim is under 14 years old and the accused is more than 10 years older than the victim, potential penalties increase to as many as eight years in prison.

How Can I Defend Myself Against a Charge of Oral Copulation with a Minor?

A criminal defense attorney can help you defend yourself against a charge for oral copulation with a minor.

There are two common defenses that might apply in your case.

False Accusation

False accusations are common when it comes to sex crimes. For example, an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend may accuse you out of revenge or jealousy.

A defense attorney may be able to help you prove that you were falsely accused. Your attorney will investigate the complaining witness’s claim and highlight inconsistencies in their story or their motivations to lie.

Mistake of Fact

If you actually believed the minor was over the age of 18 and that belief was reasonable, the prosecution cannot convict you of oral copulation with a minor under California Penal Code 287. 

If the minor claimed to be over 18 or if their physical appearance made them look like an adult, this may support a claim that you reasonably believed they were over 18. Likewise, if you met the minor in a bar where you would have expected patrons to be over 21, you may have a reasonable belief that they were not a minor.

Contact a California Sex Crimes Attorney for Help

If you have been accused, investigated, or charged with oral copulation with a minor in California, call the legal defense team at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today.

We understand the stress and stigma that can come with these kinds of accusations, and we are here to help. We provide compassionate, experienced legal defense for individuals accused of sex crimes in California.

Call us at (619) 234-2300 or contact us online for a confidential and free consultation to learn what we can do for you.

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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.