Most of the following sex-related crimes such as sexual harassment, prostitution, and consensual sex in public are punishable by a fine of $1,000 and/or no more than 6 months Female crime victimin jail.1Cal Penal Code 647 Where a crime involves a child under 18, the fine is up to $5,000 and/or no more than 1 year in jail.2Cal Penal Code 647.6 However, more serious crimes like rape have much more severe penalties, specified below.

1. Prostitution

It’s a crime either to prostitute yourself or to hire a prostitute.3Cal Penal Code Sec 647(b)

2. Sex in public

Sex between consenting adults in public is a crime.4Cal Penal Code Sec 647(a)

Cruising for sex. It’s a crime to “loiter” or hang around public bathrooms to try to have sex with someone, whether it is consensual or not.5Cal Penal Code Sec 647(d)

3. Sexual Harassment

All of the following are crimes punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail (though in some cases it could be considered a more serious crime with more severe punishment):

  • Engaging in “lewd conduct” in public, which includes making explicit sexual comments or “catcalls” towards others, or obscene or sexual gestures.6Cal Penal Code Sec 647(a)
  • Indecent exposure: when someone exposes or “flashes” his/her genitals to another person in public.7Cal Penal Code 314
  • When someone physically gropes you or touches you in a sexually inappropriate way, it is a crime called “sexual battery.”8Cal Penal Code 234.4(e); you can also sue for sexual battery under Cal Civil Code Sec 1708.5

If you experience sexual harassment by your employer, it’s also a violation of employment law.9CA Govt Code Sec. 12940(j)(1), (3)

4. “Peeping Tom” or Hidden Camera

While on another person’s property without permission (which in itself is illegal), it is illegal to peek in the door or window of any building where people live.10Cal Penal Code Sec 647(i)

It is also illegal to look through a peephole or use a device such as binoculars to look inside a room or place where someone has an expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade that person’s privacy. It’s an additional crime to secretly photograph or record this person.11Cal Penal Code Sec 647(j) You can also sue people for violating your privacy in this way.12Cal Civil Code Sec 1708.8

5. Posting nude photos of someone on the Internet

It’s also illegal to pay someone who took nude photos of a person, knowing that the pictures were taken in violation of the person’s privacy (see above), and then post the pictures online (or otherwise distribute them).13Cal Civil Code Sec 1708.8(f)(1)

  • It is NOT illegal for a different person to repost the photos once they have already been posted.14Cal Civil Code Sec 1708.8(f)(3)
  • Revenge porn: If you agree to have someone take nude pictures of you, where you have an understanding that the photos will remain private, it is illegal for that person to then post the photos online (or otherwise send them to people) intending to cause you emotional harm (assuming this made you emotionally distressed).15SB255, codified at Cal Penal Code Sec 647(j) It is a crime with the possibility of up to 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 fine; may suspend driver license. You can also sue a person for it.16AB2643, to be codified at Cal Civil Code Sec 1708.85

6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Is it illegal to have sex with someone and not tell them I have an STD?

Not exactly. It is a crime only if you intend to infect someone with HIV or any “infectious or communicable disease,” and you have sex with or do other things with that person that increase the risk that the person will be infected, and that person does not know you have that disease.

If that person actually becomes infected, the penalty is a maximum of 6 months in jail. If the person does NOT actually become infected, the penalty is a maximum of 90 days in county jail.17CA Health and Safety Code Sec 120290; (Note: Prior to Jan 2018 this was considered a felony with a penalty of up to 8 years in jail)

Is it illegal to try to get someone else to infect a person with a disease?

Yes. Similarly to the above, it is a crime if you intend to infect a person with a disease, and you cause a third party who has that disease do something “risky” to the intended target, and then the person gets infected. The penalty is up to 6 months in jail.18CA Health and Safety Code Sec 120290



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