What You Need to Know About Sodomy Laws in California
Anal sex used to be criminalized in all 50 states. With the rise of LGBT activism, this has fortunately changed (for the most part). Here’s everything you need to know about sodomy laws in California.
A 2003 Supreme Court decision ruled that systematically criminalizing sodomy is unconstitutional. Sodomy, or anal copulation, is now perfectly legal in California. California residents, no matter their sexual orientation or gender, are legally allowed to engage in anal sex.
Legal Definition of Sodomy
Sodomy is legally defined as sexual contact between one person’s penis and another person’s anus. Sodomy occurs if an individual’s penis sexually contacts someone else’s anus, no matter how slight of contact.
However, California does criminalize certain “unlawful acts of sodomy”. Under California Penal Code 286, it is illegal to take part in
- Sodomy with children
- Sodomy against one’s will or consent
Is gay sex legal in California?
For those asking if gay sex is legal in California, yes it is. Gay couples can consensually engage in anal sex without having to fear being charged with unlawful sodomy. Prosecution for unlawful sodomy is extremely rare, even in states that clearly criminalize it.
Was gay sex ever against the law?
Prior to 2003, sodomy was not legal in California. A monumental Supreme Court case, Lawrence v Texas, ruled that systematically criminalizing sodomy is unconstitutional. The case serves as a precedent, and most U.S. states responded by decriminalizing gay sex.
What states criminalize sodomy?
As of September 17th, 2019, the following states criminalize sodomy:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Although district attorneys will rarely prosecute individuals charged with sodomy, these states still present government laws that discriminate against the LGBT community.
Penalties for Unlawful Sodomy in California
Unlawful sodomy can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
Individuals convicted of sodomy as a misdemeanor may face
- A fine of up to $1,000 and
- Up to one year in county jail
An individual convicted of a misdemeanor sodomy charge must register as a sex offender.
Individuals convicted of sodomy as a felony may face up to
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Either 16 months, two, or three years in state prison
An individual convicted of a felony sodomy charge must register as a sex offender.
Legal Defenses to an Unlawful Sodomy Charge
If you have been accused of unlawful sodomy, your lawyer may argue that
- The victim is making a false accusation
- This is a case of mistaken identity
- There is insufficient evidence
- The victim consented to the act
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been accused of unlawful sodomy, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.