Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

California Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Most sexual contact between two consenting individuals is none of the state's concern, but certain laws are designed to protect children and others who may be vulnerable to exploitation. Other laws that fall into this category include indecent exposure or lewd and obscene conduct, which may be charged against someone who engages in public sex acts.  

In California, prohibited consensual sexual activity laws are mostly limited to statutory rape (sex with a minor), public displays of indecent exposure, and mandatory testing if the spread of HIV is suspected.

And while U.S. sodomy laws applicable to consenting adults were found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, California's code still has a sodomy law on the books. Many states still have sodomy laws that single out same-sex relationships (even if those laws are uneforceable under federal law), but California defines prohibited forms of "sodomy" as follows:

  • Sodomy with someone who is under the age of consent (18), or
  • Sodomy against someone's will by means of force, violence, duress, etc. (which is non-consensual)

Details of California laws pertaining to consensual sex are listed below. See Details on State Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws for a general overview.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to Both sexes
Penalty for Sodomy Pen. §286 Sodomy under 18 years of age or incompetent: misdemeanor
HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders Pen. §1202.1 Testing for HIV required if convicted of sexual offense in §§261, 261.5, 262, 264.1, 266c, 286, 288a or, if probable cause is found of transfer of bodily fluids capable of transferring HIV, §§264.1, 266c, 269, 288, 288.5, or 289
Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts Pen. §314 Lewd or obscene conduct; indecent exposure; obscene exhibitions: misdemeanor
Pen. §372 Public nuisance: misdemeanor
Pen. §647 Disorderly conduct: misdemeanor (found unconstitutional by Kolander v. Lawson 1035.ct.1855, 461 U.S. 352)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a California sex crime attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law:

Related Resources for Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws:

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select
Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options