August 2016
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What Is The Difference Between Rape, Sexual Battery, And Sexual Misconduct?
Sex crimes are referred to by many different terms. Different states use different language in their statutes, and it's easy to get confused on what each charge means. In California, the state's law makes a distinction between several types of crimes.

Sexual Assault and Battery

Sexual assault and sexual battery are often used interchangeably to refer to the same crime. Sexual battery can be either a misdemeanor or felony, and prohibits the unwanted touching of a person's intimate parts for purposes of arousal, gratification, or abuse. For example, grabbing a woman's breast or buttocks without her permission would generally be misdemeanor sexual assault. In cases where the victim is confined, disabled or incapacitated, or assaulted by a person like a medical professional, the charges can be increased to a felony.


Rape is defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse by means of threat, force, or fraud. Rape is always a felony charge, and the punishment depends on the type of rape, if found guilty. The penalties for rape often depend on the circumstances, with more severe penalties depending on whether violence was used, the relationship of the accused to the victim, and the age of the victim.

Lewd or Lascivious Acts With Minors

This charge is often referred to as child molestation. The statute prohibits people from willfully and lewdly touching a child under the age of 14 for the purpose of sexual gratification. Like the other charges, the penalties for lewd or lascivious acts will vary based on the circumstances of the crime.

In some cases, younger defendants who have sexual activity with a person who is 14 or 15 will be able to defend themselves by claiming the acts were consensual, so long as the defendant is less than ten years older than the alleged victim. For example, the statute might not penalize an 18-year-old man for having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend if it was consensual.
Other Charges

People who are arrested for sex crimes may face several other charges depending on the circumstances of the arrest. For instance, the law allows people to be charged for sodomy or oral copulation if the acts were forced or the victim was underage. Additionally, a defendant may face charges of indecent exposure if he or she willfully exposed his or her genitals for the purpose of sexual gratification in the presence of another person who may be offended or annoyed by those actions.

People who are arrested for sex crimes may face several different charges at once. The consequences of a conviction for a sex crime can be severe and life-changing. For that reason, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are accused of any of these types of crime.

The Orange County criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Virginia L. Landry have the skills you need to fight back against allegations of criminal sexual misconduct. Find out more about how Virginia Landry and her team can help you by calling 866.902.6880, or visiting us online .
Murder Charges for Driving Under the Influence? Understanding Watson Advisements
Getting arrested for driving under the influence carries serious penalties, especially if you cause an accident or an injury. But could you get arrested for murder after a DUI? In some instances, the answer is yes.

A DUI charged as a murder is often known as a "Watson murder." The name comes from a California Supreme Court case called  The People v. Watson . In that case, the defendant Robert Watson had a history of DUI arrests. One night, he drove drunk after drinking a large amount of beer until the early morning hours of January 3, 1979. When driving home from the bar, he first ran a red light and narrowly avoided a collision. He sped away from that near accident and approached another intersection, where he struck a car at nearly 70 miles per hour. The three occupants of the car were ejected from the vehicle, and a mother and her six-year-old daughter were killed. At the time of the accident, Watson's blood alcohol level was 0.23. 

Watson was charged with two counts of second degree murder and two counts of vehicular homicide. Initially, the judge in the case dismissed the murder counts because there was insufficient evidence to prove that Watson had acted with malice, a required element of a second-degree murder charge.

The case was appealed to the state supreme court, which disagreed with the lower court. The Supreme Court found that there was nothing preventing prosecutors from charging Watson with murder, assuming the prosecution could prove malice. The Supreme Court noted that in these types of cases, malice can be implied when a person deliberately commits an act which he or she should know endangers the lives of others or shows a conscious disregard for the lives of others.

In the  Watson case, the Supreme Court did not decide whether Watson was guilty of second degree murder. However, the Court did state that there was probably sufficient cause to charge him with the crime. The fact that he willingly consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication knowing that he had to drive later showed a conscious disregard for others' safety. In addition, he drove his car at very high speeds through a suburban area even after almost causing an accident. The court wrote that the combination of these facts would support a finding of implied malice. 

As a result of the  Watson case, prosecutors are able to charge defendants with a Watson murder if they meet these three requirements: 
  1. The defendant committed an intentional act that caused someone's death; 
  2. The natural consequences of the defendant's actions were dangerous to human life; and 
  3. The defendant acted with knowing disregard of the danger. 

In order to make it easier to meet these requirements, all courts in California require people who plead guilty to DUI to sign what is known as a Watson advisement. This advisement states:

I understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs my ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If I continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of my driving, someone is killed, I can be charged with murder.

Signing a Watson advisement means that a defendant who drives again while intoxicated already has notice that his or her actions are dangerous and that murder charges for driving under the influence and causing a death are possible.

Facing murder charges after a DUI is a frightening prospect. If you or someone you love caused an accident while driving under the influence, it is important to seek experienced help as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, our attorneys are skilled at handling the most complicated DUI cases and can help you assess your options. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact our office today by calling 866.902.6880 or visit us online at
Virginia Landry

Virginia L. Landry received her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University in 1982. She then went on to pursue her law degree from Western State University, graduating in 1988. The following year, Ms. Landry opened her own Law Office. As a nationally recognized Board Certified DUI Defense Attorney Specialist, Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Virginia L. Landry, is able to practice law within all the California state courts and the Central District Court of the United States.


As a criminal defense lawyer with years of litigation and trial experience, Ms. Landry is fully prepared to handle criminal cases involving violent crimes, white collar crimes, theft crimes, sex crimes, juvenile crimes, drug crimes, weapons charges, and domestic violence. Attorney Landry has successfully represented clients facing a variety of complex misdemeanor and felony charges.

In addition to her current position as Regent for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD), Virginia serves on the Board of Directors for the California DUI Lawyers Association  as its Secretary. Virginia is one of only a handful of attorneys across the nation who is Board Certified in DUI Defense. She has also received her  certificate of instruction , successfully training participants in DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student and Instructor courses.


Virginia Landry served on two committees and was on the Orange County Bar Association's Board of Directors for three years, is a past President and current member of the West Orange County Bar Association, is currently a Sustaining Member for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Other local bar associations include the North Orange County Bar Association, The Newport Harbor Bar Association, the South Harbor Bar Association, the Western State University Alumni Association, the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association and the Warren J. Ferguson Inns of Court.

The Law Offices Of Virginia Landry Team