Police have arrested 37-year-old Octavio Alvarez Gomez in connection to a kidnapping and sexual assault crime. According to police, Gomez sexually assaulted a woman he picked up from a pub while he was driving for the ride sharing business, Lyft.
Lyft Driver Accused of Numerous Sex Crimes
Gomes is currently being held on a bail set at more than $2.2 million.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Gomez picked up the victim shortly after 10:00 p.m. last week from a Van Nuys pub. According to the victim, Gomez sexually assaulted her before she was able to exit the vehicle.
“The allegations described are truly horrific and we have reached out to the passenger to extend our full support,” said a spokeswoman for Lyft. “From day one, the safety of our community has been our number one priority. As soon as we received this information we deactivated the driver and we stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”
Gomez Faces Numerous Charges
After exiting the vehicle, she immediately reported the assault to the LAPD. After conducting surveillance on Gomez, the LAPD arrested him on a number of charges, including rape, felony sexual battery, sexual penetration with a foreign object, and kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual assault.
A sex crime is any illegal act that is sexual in nature, and rape is one of the most grievous sex crimes in California, taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges alike.
Rape is a form of sexual assault and California law defines rape as the act of engaging in sexual intercourse against another person’s will or without his or her consent, using fear, force, violence, fraud or duress. Judging by movies and television shows, you might think that most rape crimes involve a stranger attacking an unsuspecting woman in a dark alley, but a large percentage of California rape and sexual assault cases actually involve people who know one another. In fact, in many of these cases, the sexual encounter is consensual, and the alleged victim falsely accuses the defendant of rape after the fact, simply because he or she is filled with regret. One example of a situation in which a person may be falsely accused of a rape crime would be if a man and woman meet at a bar, have too much to drink and end up going home together. If, the following morning, the woman regrets the encounter, she may accuse the man of rape to shift the blame from herself onto him.
There are several different categories of rape in California and such crimes are covered under California Penal Code § 220 PC assault with intent to commit rape, Penal Code § 261 PC rape, Penal Code § 261.5 PC statutory rape, Penal Code § 262 PC spousal rape, Penal Code § 264.1 PC forcible rape while acting in concert, Penal Code § 266(c) PC oral copulation by force, and Penal Code § 289 PC forcible penetration with a foreign object, and each of these offenses is a separate crime. Generally, rape charges may occur when any of the following elements come into play:
• Physical force, verbal or non-verbal threats, intimidation or another form of coercion was used by the defendant towards another person
• The other person was legally unable to give consent
• The defendant obtained permission for a sexual act through fraudulent means
• The sexual act was done while the other person was unconscious or sleeping
• The other person’s reason for complying was out of fear of bodily harm
The most significant element of a rape crime is consent and it is important to understand that the other person doesn’t have to resist for a sexual act to be considered rape. The age of consent in California is 18, and under the California statutory rape statute Section 261.5, the law assumes that minors are unable to legally give consent. This means that even if the other person is a willing participant in the sexual act, if he or she is under 18, he or she is unable to legally consent, and you could be charged with statutory rape.
Defenses to Rape Crimes Charges
Successfully defending yourself against rape charges in Los Angeles depends a great deal on the circumstances of your case, but the most common defense strategy used by criminal defense attorneys is disproving the absence of consent. If you and your attorney can prove that the person accusing you of rape gave consent prior to engaging in the sexual act, you may be able to use this as a defense. Some other defenses that may be helpful in your California rape case include:
• False accusation – If your attorney can prove that the claim of rape was false, made for the purpose of retaliation or other reasons
• Mistaken identity – If your attorney can prove that the other person may have been influenced by police during the identification process
• Consent – If the other person initially consented to the intercourse, but later changed his or her mind and failed to effectively communicate the withdrawal of consent; or if you had good reason to believe the other person had consented
• Insufficient evidence – If no medical or physical evidence was presented to corroborate the rape accusation
Although the legal age of consent in California is 18, you may be able to use age as a defense if you are younger than 21, the alleged victim is older than 16, and there is only a three-year difference between your ages.
Felony Sexual Battery
Under California law, “sex crimes” is a broad term referring to any criminal offense that is sexual in nature, including everything from sexual battery to grabbing your genitals in public with the intent to offend another person. Sex crimes can be charged as misdemeanor or felony offenses, but the majority of these crimes are felonies, and this means you could end up with a felony conviction on your permanent record. Our attorneys at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles have experience defending clients against all types of California sex crimes charges, including:
• Child pornography (California Penal Code § 311 PC) – Possessing, producing, distributing, selling or transporting pornographic materials depicting minors engaging in or simulating sexual acts
• Indecent exposure (California Penal Code § 314 PC) – Intentionally exposing one’s genitals in public with the intent to offend or annoy another person
• Pimping (California Penal Code § 266h PC) – Knowingly receiving compensation or financial support from money earned through prostitution
• Pandering (California Penal Code § 266i PC) – Facilitating or provisioning a prostitute in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer
• Prostitution (California Penal Code § 647(b) PC) – The practice of engaging in sexual activity with another person for payment
• Rape (California Penal Code § 261 PC)– Sexual penetration carried out against the other person’s will
• Sexual battery (California Penal Code § 243.4 PC) – Nonconsensual touching of another person’s intimate parts
• Soliciting a prostitute (California Penal Code § 647(b) PC) – Offering or accepting money or other compensation for sex
• Spousal rape (California Penal Code § 262 PC) – A rape of a person who is the spouse of the perpetrator
• Statutory rape (California Penal Code § 261.5 PC) – Rape of a minor under the age of 18
Defenses to Sex Crimes Charges
Facing charges for a serious sex crime in California may seem like the end of the world, but it is important to remember that if you are accused of a criminal offense, it is your right to assert any legal defense that can help explain, excuse or justify your behavior. Our lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles understand what defense strategies are most successful in Los Angeles sex crimes cases and will do everything in their power to develop an effective defense against the sex crimes charges. Some helpful defenses to assert in a California rape crimes case may include:
• You were falsely accused
• You are the victim of mistaken identity
• The prosecution’s evidence is insufficient
• The sex was consensual
• No sexual contact occurred
• You honestly and reasonably believed that the alleged victim consented
Although some sex crimes occur because one or both people had too much to drink, being too intoxicated to know what you were doing is not a valid defense in a California sex crimes case if the intoxication was voluntary. If you were “involuntary intoxicated” at the time the offense occurred, meaning your drink was spiked or you were otherwise drugged without your knowledge or consent, this defense may apply to your case.
Kidnapping with the Intent to Commit a Sexual Assault
Kidnapping is a felony offense under California law, and a conviction for kidnapping in Los Angeles can have a significant impact on every aspect of your life, possibly affecting your ability to find a job or place to live.
There are certain circumstances that can elevate a simple kidnapping offense to aggravated kidnapping (Penal Code § 207(c) PC), a more serious offense that carries enhanced criminal penalties. Some elements of aggravated kidnapping crimes in Los Angeles include the following:
• Using force, fear or fraud upon a victim who is a child under the age of 14
• Causing the victim to suffer serious bodily harm or death
• Kidnapping for the purpose of committing robbery, rape or another criminal offense
• Kidnapping involving a ransom request
• Kidnapping a victim during a carjacking
It is important to note that aggravated kidnapping does not necessarily require that the person be moved or relocated, only that the person was held or detained against his or her will. Some examples of aggravated kidnapping include: tying someone up, moving him to a secluded location, and then calling his family to demand a ransom; tricking your girlfriend’s 10-year-old son into getting in the car with you by offering to take him to the movies, when you actually intend to hide him from his mother because you found out she is cheating on you; or holding a gun to a woman’s head and demanding that she drives you away from the store you just robbed. Some other charges related to Penal Code § 207 PC kidnapping include Penal Code § 209 PC kidnapping for ransom, reward, or extortion, or to commit robbery or rape; Penal Code § 209.5 PC kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking, Penal Code § 210 PC extortion by posing as a kidnapper, Penal Code § 278 PC child abduction, and Penal Code § 278.5 PC deprivation of a child custody order.
Defenses to Kidnapping Charges
It is easy to imagine that the deck is stacked against you when facing kidnapping charges in Los Angeles, especially if the circumstances of the offense elevate the crime to aggravated kidnapping. Fortunately, there are a variety of legal defenses that can apply to California kidnapping charges to explain or justify your alleged actions. If you have been arrested for kidnapping in Los Angeles, a skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with California law and the intricacies of the criminal justice system can raise a number of defenses on your behalf, including the following:
• Lack of intent – You did not have the requisite intent necessary to sustain a kidnapping conviction
• Mistaken identity – You were falsely accused of kidnapping based on mistaken identity
• Consent – The alleged victim consented to being moved
• Lack of sufficient movement – The movement wasn’t substantial enough to qualify the alleged crime as kidnapping
• Actual innocence – You were merely present and not the individual who carried out the kidnapping
• Lawful custody – As the parent of the alleged victim, you have a right to travel with your child
• Lack of proof – The prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to prove the case
Hiring an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
There is no turning back from a sex crimes conviction in California. Even after the criminal penalties associated with the offense have been served, you will still have a felony on your criminal record for the rest of your life, not to mention other serious legal consequences, and the stigma of the sex crimes conviction will follow you for the rest of your life, even if you are innocent of the crime. Sex crimes are serious criminal offenses, and California law requires that all sex crime allegations are investigated, and rightfully so. However, some people are mistaken in making such accusations and some people flat out lie, either to shift the blame from themselves or to get revenge on the other person. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a sex crime in Los Angeles, do not wait until formal charges have been filed to contact a sex crimes defense lawyer. California sex crimes accusations demand early intervention and aggressive investigation, and our legal team is capable of both. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today at (213) 205-3100 to discuss with a resourceful and aggressive sex crimes lawyer the best defense strategy to fight the charges against you.