Skip to main content

California Sex Crime Laws That Have Changed or Updated in 2022

Numerous new laws took effect in 2022, many of which are related to sex crimes.

Numerous new laws took effect in 2022, many of which are related to sex crimes. 

Assembly Bill 453

California is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation making stealthing illegal. Stealthing is the act of removing a condom without consent during intercourse. It is now considered an act of sexual battery if a person were to:

  • Cause contact between a penis from which a condom has been removed and the intimate part of another person who did not verbally consent to the removal of the condom.

This law is meant to protect women and men from the effects of stealthing, which are pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Although the law states that stealthing constitutes sexual battery, these cases will not be prosecuted in criminal court. Instead, victims may use civil courts to sue perpetrators for emotional harm and to seek punitive damages. Victims do not have to show physical proof, such as pregnancy or an STD, resulting from their partner’s condom removal. Instead, their word, credibility, and other forms of evidence, such as text messages or conversations with third parties, can be sufficient to hold a perpetrator accountable in court. 

Assembly Bill 1171

California was one of a small handful of states that continued to distinguish spousal rape from non-spousal rape and treat it as a less serious crime. AB 1171 expands on the legal definition of rape by eliminating the difference between rape and spousal rape. Now spousal rape is treated just as seriously regardless of the relationship between victims and perpetrators. 

Assembly Bill 939

Under this law, the way a sexual assault victim is dressed can no longer be used as evidence of consent in a trial. 

Assembly Bill 124

Assembly Bill 124 attempts to prevent the criminalization of survivors in California courts by extending the affirmative defense statute that currently only applies to human trafficking survivors to survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and violent offenses. Therefore, the following mitigating factors that impact survivors must be considered at all stages of the criminal justice process: 

  • History of trauma (physical, psychological, and childhood trauma), 
  • Age (whether the defendant is 25 or younger presently or at the time of the offense), 
  • Victimization (human trafficking, intimate partner violence, or sexual violence), and 
  • Whether the defendant has nexus to the offense.

Survivors must be sentenced beginning at the lower term when these mitigating factors contributed to their committed offense unless the aggravating factors of the crime outweigh these mitigating factors.

Senate Bill 215

This bill requires the Department of Justice to establish on or before July 1, 2022, a process that allows survivors of sexual assault to track and receive information regarding their sexual assault evidence kit electronically. 

Assembly Bill 1455

Under AB 1455, survivors of sexual assault by law enforcement officers have more time to file a civil lawsuit. Survivors have 10 years from either (a) the last date the officer was employed by a law enforcement agency, local or state or (b) the date of conviction—whichever is later. Previously, the statute of limitations was 10 years from the last assault or attempted assault or three years from the date the survivor discovered an injury or illness.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of a Sex Crime

If you are a victim of a sex crime, there are critical steps to take to protect your health and legal rights:

  • Call the police and make a police report.
  • Write down or make a recording of everything you remember about the incident and the perpetrator.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries and get a rape kit done.
  • Take photos of any visible injuries.
  • Keep any records related to the event, including all medical treatment received, medications, lost income, counseling, etc.

Even if you are unsure about pressing charges or filing a lawsuit, having the evidence you need in case you change your mind can leave you with options. Lastly, contact a trusted California Sexual Abuse Attorney as soon as possible. They can advise you on your legal rights and the best course of action. 

How an Attorney Can Help Victims of Sex Crimes

Sexual abuse or assault is a crime that carries severe penalties beyond jail time, but there are civil remedies that can be pursued as well. When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit due to a sex crime, a California Sexual Abuse Attorney can advocate for you and your family on several levels. They will look out for your best interests, including referring you to proper agencies for personal assistance, fighting for your rights, and serving as a liaison with the police. An attorney can also help you determine who can be held responsible. 

Certainly, your assailant, and if there were any aggravating factors—such as the threat of violence, injury, kidnapping, brandishing or use of a deadly weapon, or an administered substance—an attorney will ensure you receive the compensation you are owed for the level of suffering and duress you endured. However, a sexual abuse lawsuit can also be pursued against any third parties that contributed to your assault. For example, if you were attacked in a public place such as a school parking lot, the district or university may be partially responsible for failing to provide adequate security. Therefore, your attorney will investigate all of the details surrounding your case to make sure all liable parties are held accountable. 

Legal Right to Compensation

Victims of sexual abuse or assault have the right to recover the following types of compensation: 

  • Current and future medical expenses for any physical injuries related to the assault or abuse, as well as for emotional distress (e.g., therapy or counseling).
  • Current and future lost wages for any time spent away from work while recovering from your injuries and the emotional distress caused by the assault. 
  • Diminished earning capacity if you are unable to earn the same level of income as before the sexual assault. 
  • Compensation for your pain and suffering and emotional distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, etc.)

In many cases involving sexual abuse or assault, the court will award punitive damages to act as punishment and to deter perpetrators from repeated crimes and others. If you are in need of legal representation, our Los Angeles sexual assault lawyers can help you recover. Contact us anytime.

Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is regarded as America's leading law firm for sexual abuse cases. As a firm that exclusively handles sexual abuse cases, our California law firm offers experienced representation to obtain justice for sexual abuse survivors, harassment, and discrimination.

Learn more about Manly, Stewart & Finaldi.