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Sodomy Crimes
(PC 286)
Law, Punishment, & Defense

The laws on the crime of unlawful sodomy can be found at California penal code section 286. There are many different sodomy crimes in California. Each sodomy crime has its own assigned punishment and unique defense options.

For example, sodomy with a person under the age of eighteen is charged as PC 286(b)(1), whereas sodomy by force or fear against an adult is charged as PC 286(c)(2)(A).

Sodomy Definition: 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 [PC 286(a)].

Consensual sodomy is not illegal in California. Sodomy without consent is the crime. Minors, or persons under the age of eighteen, do not have the legal capacity to consent.

To prove unlawful sodomy, the district attorney must prove that a man’s penis penetrated another person’s anus, without consent. This means that the sodomy was accomplished either by force, violence or fear, or the sodomy was performed on someone who is unable to give consent (minor victim, intoxicated victim, confined victim, or unconscious victim).


Note: The district attorney is not required to prove that the defendant intended to commit a precise harm or injury while committing sodomy.

Unlawful Sodomy Punishment

Almost all sodomy charges are filed as felonies. The most common sodomy charges and corresponding maximum sentences are as follows:

  • PC 286(b)(1) Sodomy against a minor 16 or 17: Filed as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Misdemeanor charges of PC 286(b)(1): carry up to a one-year jail sentence. Felony charges of PC 286(b)(1) carry up to a three-year prison sentence.

  • PC 286(b)(2) Sodomy against a minor under 16: Felony charge that carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.

  • PC 286(c)(1) Sodomy against a minor under 14: Felony charge that carries a maximum eight-year prison sentence.

  • PC 286(c)(2)(A) Sodomy by force or fear: Felony charge that carries a maximum eight-year prison sentence.

  • PC 286(c)(2)(B) Sodomy by force or fear against a minor under 14: Felony charge that carries a maximum thirteen year in prison sentence.

  • PC 286(c)(2)(C) Sodomy by force or fear against a minor over 13: Felony charge that carries a maximum eleven-year prison sentence.

  • PC 286(f) Sodomy of an unconscious victim: Felony charge that carries a maximum eight year prison sentence.


Note: Probation is not available in unlawful sodomy cases. Also, incarceration for most crimes related to sodomy are served in state prison (as opposed to a local county jail) and no part of that prison sentence may be split or suspended (aka “joint suspended prison sentence”).

Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of the crime of sodomy. the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender (PC 290). For more information, see Sex Offender Registration Requirements & CA Tier System for Sex Offenders.

Three Strikes Sentencing: Most, but not all, PC 286 crimes, are serious and violent offenses. Therefore, almost all sodomy crimes are considered strike offenses per California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law.

Collateral Punishment: As with other sex crimes, PC 286 convictions may carry additional criminal and civil punishments, including: fines, court security fees, victim restitution, criminal protective orders (CPO), civil lawsuits, loss of rights to own firearms, loss of a professional license, loss of immigration status, and more.


Defenses to PC 286

Common defense to PC 286 allegations include, consent to engage in sodomy (does not apply to person unable to consent), illegal search and seizure of evidence, statute of limitations, reasonable mistake of fact as to the victim’s age or the granting of consent, coerced confessions, insufficient evidence to prove sodomy (unreliable evidence or non-credible witnesses), and more.

For more information on the defenses common to sodomy crimes, including a discussion of the statute of limitations related to sex crimes, see Defense to Sex Crimes.

If you or a loved one is charged with any PC 286 allegation (unlawful sodomy), contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorney today. Our experienced and dedicated team of award-winning trial lawyers have helped hundreds of clients charged with misdemeanor and felony sex crimes. Call today!


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