Defending Crimes Against Children Requires Experience
The defense of crimes alleging a child as a victim is complicated by the fact that California law is replete with procedural accommodations for these cases that favor the prosecution. Additionally, there are sentence “enhancements” that are real traps for defense lawyers who do not regularly handle these types of matters. Literally every single facet of these cases must be carefully explored. These cases are often factually very fluid, in that allegations made by children may change for the better or worse. The attorney must be prepared to anticipate these changes as the case is litigated. The defense attorney must be prepared not only to meet the case as it exists now but as it may exist later.
The Stakes Are High
These cases are often litigated where the stakes involve a possible sentence of many decades or even life in prison. The defense attorney must also prepare against the possibility of a client being labeled a Sexually Violent Predator, which will result in an involuntary civil commitment that can last long after any prison sentence is finished.
For those defendants facing a probation sentence, in the event of a conviction, there are probation conditions specially imposed in these matters: residency restrictions, registration as a sex offender, polygraph, and sex offender counseling, to name a few. Indeed, the sex registration provisions carry past probationary period and lasts for life. For a paroled defendant, G.P.S. tracking may be mandated, and parolee residency restrictions are often so sever the defendant is forced to live in a desert community or disappear onto the streets. Thankfully, the courts are not trying to enforce a castration requirement that is still on the books.
The following are a few examples of crimes specific to children, all of which we have defended:
Kidnapping (PC 207)
It is illegal to forcibly, or by other means of instilling fear, detains or hold any person. It is also considered kidnapping under California if a person hires, persuades or entices a child under the age of fourteen to leave the county, state or country for the for purpose of committing a lewd or lascivious act upon that child. For more information see the separate section regarding lewd or lascivious acts. The punishment for kidnapping is enhanced (substantially) if the kidnapping is committed for the purpose of rape, ransom, reward, or robbery or if the victim is under the age of fourteen.
Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Person under 18 (PC 261.5)
This section of the Penal Code is colloquially known as “Statutory Rape.” Under this section it is crime to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18, unless the person is spouse of the accused. The crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and the punishment can range from probation to a four year sentence in state prison and stiff fines. Whether the crime is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor and the severity of the punishment, is greatly dependant on the relative age of the parties involved—the greater the age discrepancy, the greater the harsher the punishment.
Pimping (PC 266 et seq.)
Any person who receives compensation for soliciting another person for prostitution is guilty of the felony of pimping and can be punished by a prison term of three, four, or six years. Pimping can also be charged when a person who, knowing another person is a prostitute, benefits from the proceeds of the prostitution. The pimping of a child under the age of 18 years carries increased punishment.
Lewd or Lascivious Acts (PC 288)
Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body of a child who is under the age of 14 years, is guilty of a felony if they were acting with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying his or her own or the child’s lust, passions, or sexual desires. If the act is committed by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear or committed by a caretaker the punishment is enhanced. The punishment is also enhanced when the victim is under the age of fourteen and the accused is more than ten years older.
Harmful Matter Sent with Intent of Seduction of a Minor (PC 288.2)
If a person sends, exhibits, or offers to distribute or exhibit any harmful matter to a minor with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of a minor and with the intent, or for the purpose of seducing a minor, they are guilty of this crime. However, the accused must know that the recipient is a minor, or must fail to exercise reasonable care in ascertaining the true age of a minor recipient. Harmful matter is anything that, when taken as a whole, an average person in California would think appeals to an unwholesome sexual interest.
There are dozens of other examples in the Penal Code specifying crimes against children. The defense in each of these matters, of course, varies according to the specific allegations in the case as well as our assessment of the possibility of other allegations and enhancements that may filed by the prosecution at a later date.
If you are facing charges involving allegations of a crime against a child, you may contact our crimes against children attorney for an honest, accurate and confidential advice.