California Makes 'Stealthing' Illegal

On October 7, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 453 into law, thus outlawing “stealthing,” which is a slang term for removing a condom during sex without verbal consent. California has become the first state in the country to make stealthing illegal. 

The new law makes it a civil offense for someone to remove a condom without their partner’s consent. Therefore, victims are allowed to sue their offenders for damages, including punitive damages. 

Although the legislation does not make stealthing a criminal offense punishable by jail time, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia—who sponsored the bill—said that passing it was “a good first step” to eventually adding the act into California’s criminal code. Supporters of the bill say that civil litigation can be more beneficial for victims since only a small percentage of sexual assault cases filed with police ever end up in court. 

According to a 2010 study published in the National Library of Medicine, approximately 12 percent of women claimed to be the victim of stealthing. In another 2019 study, about 10 percent of men admitted to committing the act consensually during intercourse. 

Stealthing can also lead to unplanned pregnancies or transmission of sexually transmitted infection (STI). Although similar bills have been introduced in New York and Wisconsin, lawmakers passed neither. 

Gov. Newsom also signed another bill sponsored by Garcia, which removes a spousal exemption to California’s rape laws. Now, the rape of a spouse will be treated the same as rape of a non-spouse. 

While maximum penalties between rape and spousal rale remain the same, individuals who are convicted of spousal rape can receive probation in lieu of jail or prison. If the use of force or violence was involved and the spouse was sentenced to state prison, he/she must register as a sex offender. 

If you have been accused of a sex crime in Fresno, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or complete our online contact form today to schedule a free initial consultation. Let a former prosecutor protect your rights, reputation, and freedom! 

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