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New Law Makes Condom Stealthing Illegal in California

The Golden State is the first in the United States to make removing a condom without consent illegal. In the last few years, both New York and Wisconsin have unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law an amendment to the state’s civil code. Removing a condom without verbal consent during sex, informally known as “stealthing,” has been added to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery, Section 1708.5 of the Civil Code.

The law does not make stealthing a sex crime punishable by criminal code.

Victims have grounds to sue their assailants in civil court. If successful, they may receive damages, including punitive damages. The burden of proof is lower than in criminal cases. The preponderance of evidence means that there is a 50% chance or higher that the claim is true. In criminal court, the much higher burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assembly Bill No. 453 was sponsored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia. She was inspired four years ago to seek legislative change after reading an academic paper written by activist and lawyer Alexandra Brodsky.

“‘Rape-Adjacent’: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal” brought the discussion to a wider office. The paper concluded that stealthing brought more than the fear of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The victims also felt deceived and violated.

Garcia’s initial legislative attempts failed, partly because she also sought a change to the criminal code related to sexual battery.

Marriage Exemption Removed from Rape Law

A second Garcia bill was also signed into law by the governor. This change does affect the criminal code, treating the rape of a spouse the same as a non-spouse.

“Rape is rape,” Garcia said. “And a marriage license is not an excuse for committing one of society’s most violent and sadistic crimes.”

The new law in California removes an exemption to the rape law if the victim is married to the perpetrator. Anyone convicted of raping a spouse is subject to the same mandatory sentencing guidelines and sex offender registry requirements as any other rapist.

Previously, spousal rapists could plea bargain down to probation. Judges could also eliminate the sex registry requirement. The previous law also did not allow prosecutors to charge rape when a spouse couldn’t give legal consent because they were under the influence or unconscious.

California had been one of 11 states with laws that distinguished between spousal rape and other forms of sexual assault.

The 10 states that continue to classify rape differently if it is perpetuated on a spouse are the following:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Maryland
  3. Michigan
  4. Mississippi
  5. Nevada
  6. Ohio
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Rhode Island
  9. South Carolina
  10. Virginia

The laws in these 10 states vary but some offer shorter time limits or require force or threat of force before spousal rape is a crime. Nebraska was the first state to outlaw marital rape in 1976.

Statute of Limitations Extended on Some Sex Assault Civil Claims

Newsom also approved extending the statute of limitations for victims to file civil claims against law-enforcement officers who sexually assaulted them while on duty, in uniform, or armed at the time.

Sharp Defense for Those Fighting Sex Charges

Sex crime allegations in Orange County cast a dark shadow on your reputation, affect your professional and personal relationships, and impact your daily routines. Convictions can add extensive penalties, including time behind bars, costly fines, and required sex offender registration wherever you live.

Don’t place your freedom and future in the hands of inexperience. At Corrigan Welbourne Stokke, APLC, We have more than 100 years of collective experience fighting for the best possible outcomes for our clients. We are unafraid to take on challenging cases and believe everyone has the right to effective defense counsel.

We offer same-day appointments because we know that time is critical. Reach out using our online form or by calling (949) 251-0330. Your initial consultation is free.