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California Jury Instruction for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor Under 14

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Feb 12, 2019

This is a very serious crime under California Penal Code Section 288.5(a) – probably one of the most severe sex crime offenses, and it carries with it fifteen for life. 

I've been doing many of these cases in downtown Los Angeles, where people look at fifteen to life. 

The prosecutors have taken a much different turn on these types of offenses, so it's essential to know exactly what the prosecutors have to prove this charge of continuous sexual abuse of a minor.

CALCRIM 1120 Jury Instructions – Continuous Sexual Abuse

In a trial on this case, the judge will read them the following from CALCRIM 1120 Jury Instructions:  the defendant is charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 years old in violation CALCRIM 1120 Jury Instructions:   the defendant is charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 years old in violation of Penal Code Section 288.5(a). 

To prove the defendant guilty of this crime, the prosecutors have to prove the following four elements: The defendant lives in the same home or had reoccurring access to a minor child.

So, this is a situation where maybe it's a live-in boyfriend, or it's someone who's continuous — perhaps a relative who continues to go over to the house consistently. 

So, that would fulfill this element number one for the continuous sexual abuse aspect.

  1. The defendant lives in the same home or had reoccurring access to a minor child.  So, this is a situation where maybe it's a live-in boyfriend, or it's someone who's continuous — perhaps a relative who continues to go over to the house consistently.  So, that would fulfill this element number one for the constant sexual abuse aspect.
  2. Element number two that is read to the jury in a criminal case in Los Angeles is, the defendant engaged in three or more acts of substantial sexual contact or lewd or lascivious conduct with a child.  So, that means there will have to be three separate instances to get this continuous sexual abuse charge in Los Angeles.  So, that's sometimes a problem for the prosecutors because the child might have problems remembering exactly when these alleged acts occurred, but that is a necessary element of a Penal Code Section 288.5(a) violation.
  3. Element number three talks about three or more months must pass between the first act and the last act or the third act. So, this has to be a period.  It has to be continuous, and the reason this is so serious is because of the age of the victim, the fact that it's happening multiple times and over some time, and that's how the prosecutors, legislature, and judges have justified giving defendants fifteen to life in prison for these type of crimes.
  4. The fourth and final element that has to be proved by the prosecutors in a criminal case under this Penal Code Section — and this is dictated by Cal. Crim. jury instruction 1120, and that is the child was under 14 years of age at the time of the acts. So, all three of the acts mentioned — the child has to be under 14.  So, again, this is another issue I see coming up for the prosecutors because if they can't pinpoint the actual time of the acts, that creates a problem. After all, they need to verify that all three actions meet the above elements and occur while the child is under 14.

Substantial Sexual Contact

Important sexual contact for purposes of this Code Section means oral copulation or masturbation of either the child or the perpetrator or penetration of the child or perpetrator's vagina or rectum by the other person's penis or any foreign object includes a finger. 

So, that's where you're talking about some actual sexual conduct for purposes of Penal Code Section 288.5(a).

When they talk about oral copulation, you're talking about — it has to be, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one and the sexual organ of another.  Penetration is not required for purposes of oral copulation as it relates to continuous sexual abuse in Los Angeles county.

Lewd and Lascivious Conduct

And finally, they talk about lewd and lascivious conduct.  There's willful touching of a child, accompanied by the intent to arouse either the perpetrator or the child sexually.

It's not necessary that they aroused, but the purpose is based on the surrounding circumstances and facts. The jury must conclude that the individual was trying to arouse another person. 

It also indicates that lewd and lascivious also includes causing a child to touch their own body or someone else's body at the instigation of the perpetrator who has the required intent necessary to willfully commit this crime of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 under Penal Code Section 288.5(a) in Los Angeles.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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