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Sexual Conduct by False Pretenses
(Penal Code 266c)
Law, Punishment, & Defense

Information on the crime of inducing another person to engage in a sexual act by false representation, or simply “sexual conduct by false pretenses,” is found at California penal code section 266c (PC266c). The law and punishment for violations of PC 266c are as follows:

PC 266c Law

PC 266c: Every person who induces any other person to engage in sexual intercourse, sexual penetration, oral copulation, or sodomy when his or her consent is procured by false or fraudulent representation…and which does induce fear, and that would cause a reasonable person in like circumstances to act contrary to the person’s free will, and does cause the victim to so act, is guilty of inducing another person to engage in a sexual act by false representation.

PC 266c Definitions

Sexual intercourse: Sexual intercourse is defined as the penetration of a man’s penis into the woman’s vagina, no matter how slight the penetration, and no matter the duration of the penetration.

Sexual Penetration: Sexual penetration is defined as the penetration of the genitals or anus of another person, by object or device, for the purpose of sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. When the sexual penetration is by a man’s penis, then the term is sexual intercourse (See “Sexual Intercourse” above).

Oral Copulation: oral copulation is defined as any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the penis, vagina, or anus of another person.

Sodomy: Sodomy is defined as sexual penetration between a man's penis and another person’s anus. Any sexual penetration of a man’s penis into another person’s anus, however slight, is sufficient to qualify as sodomy.

False Representation: false representation is defined as untrue or incorrect representation regarding a material fact that is made with knowledge or belief of its inaccuracy.

  • Example: John and Dean decide to play a prank on John’s girlfriend, Sarah. John and Dean’s plan is trick Sarah into having sex with Dean. To accomplish the ‘trick,’ Dean pretends to be John and sneaks into Sarah’s dark bedroom when Sarah is expecting John, not Dean, to join her in bed. Sarah lets Dean perform oral copulation on her because she believes that Dean is John. Then Dean tries to have sex with Sarah. At this point, Sarah realizes that John is not the person in bed with her.

  • Result: Both John and Dean may be charged with oral copulation by fraud (PC266c), attempted sexual intercourse by fraud (PC 664/266c), and conspiracy to commit sexual intercourse by fraud (PC 182/266c).

PC 266c Punishment

Wobbler Offense: Sexual conduct by fraud is classified as a wobbler. This means that PC 266c may be charged as a felony, or alternatively, as a misdemeanor.

Felony Prison Sentence: When PC 266c is charged as a felony, the defendant may face up to 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison upon conviction. A probation sentence may be available in some felony PC 266c cases (See “Probation Sentence” below).

Misdemeanor Jail Sentence: When PC 266c is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail upon conviction. A probation sentence may be available in some misdemeanor PC 266c cases.

Note: Whether the defendant is charged with a felony, or a misdemeanor depends on the sophistication of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the level harm caused to the victim, and more.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision instead of prison or jail. A probation sentence is allowed in PC 266c cases, but it is not guaranteed. Whether a defendant is granted a probation sentence after a PC 266c conviction depends on many factors, including the sophistication of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and much more.

Note: A probation sentence, when granted, is conditioned upon “terms of probation.” The terms of probation can include a term that the defendant serve a “jail sentence.” However, the jail sentence associated with a term of probation is generally much shorter than the period of incarceration that the defendant would have otherwise received if he or she was sentenced to prison. Also, incarceration related to a probation sentence may usually, but not always, be served alternatively on work release or house arrest.

No Split Prison Sentence: If the defendant is convicted of felony PC 266c (PC266c-F), and he does not receive a probation sentence, then the defendant will be sentenced to a California state prison, as opposed to a local county jail, and no part of that prison sentence may be served out-of-custody on work release or house arrest.

Sex Offender Registration: Upon a conviction for either misdemeanor PC 266c, or felony PC 266c, the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration is for twenty (20) years in felony PC 266c cases, and ten (10) yeas in misdemeanor PC 266c cases. For more information, see CA Tier System for Sex Offenders (PC 290.5), Sex Offender Registration Requirements, and Termination of Sex Offender Registration.

Additional Penalties: PC 266c convictions carry direct and indirect penalties in addition to jail or prison sentences, including, possible civil lawsuits, deportation for the United States for non-US citizens, discharge from the military, criminal protective orders, court fees and fines, victim restitution, loss of a professional license, and more.


If you or a loved on charged with inducing a person to engage in sexual conduct by fraud (aka sex by fraud), or penal code 266c, contact our experienced and dedicated team of sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our passionate team consists of award-winning trial lawyers and our success rate is second to none. Call today!


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