Review of California Penal Code 288.5 PC
In Los Angeles, many people are charged with this particular offense. Continuous sexual abuse of a child is one of the more serious sex crimes in LA or California. To be convicted of a charge like this, it has to be shown that you or the defendant in the case is, over some time, having some sexual conduct with somebody under the age of eighteen.
Therefore, the prosecutors will have to show that this happened over several days, not just a one-time occurrence. Some of the evidence that the prosecutors can utilize to prove this crime would be DNA evidence, or they get a DNA expert to try and find the defendant's DNA on the victim.
Another thing that I've seen them do is they will use a SART exam which is an exam by a nurse at a hospital to attempt to show some sexual abuse.
This usually comes in the form of some injury consistent with an individual being sexually abused over some time.
These two areas – the DNA and the SART Exam – are areas that the defense can hire an expert to challenge the prosecution's evidence and show either that there is no DNA or the DNA that is found doesn't necessarily mean that there has been some sexual abuse, and then also having an expert who understands what should or would be present if somebody was sexually abused is a significant factor in the jury's determination if the case goes to trial as to whether somebody has committed this particular crime.
Penalties for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
The thing that makes this charge so severe is that if someone is convicted of this type of offense, they could be looking at fifteen years to life, which means they'd have to serve 85% of fifteen years before they would be eligible to get paroled, which means they can never get out if the Parole Board felt they were too dangerous to be put back into society.
So, with this type of firepower, the prosecution has a lot of bargaining strength when negotiating these types of sex crime offenses. If the person doesn't work out a resolution with them, they can seek the fifteen to life penalty against that person.
Also, if you're convicted of 288.5 of the Penal Code, this is a strike. It will be on your record for life in California.
You'll have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, and several other conditions can be placed on you by the judge and the prosecutor in this type of offense
So, the bottom line is the penalties for continuous sexual abuse of a minor or child are some of the most severe penalties in sex crime-related offenses.
How to Help Yourself if Charged with PC 288.5?
The first thing you want to do is get together all of the facts and circumstances that occurred that you know of. Get together a list of questions you want to ask you're a criminal defense attorney. Once you sit down with your criminal defense attorney, you want to get some peace of mind and get some control back of the situation by asking questions, giving details, and hopefully getting some of the answers you need.
When I meet with people charged with this offense, I encourage them to be honest with me, let me know what happened, and give me all the details.
So that we can get down to the nitty-gritty of whether you're going to try to fight the case in a jury trial or whether the best resolution is to negotiate with the prosecutor and judge and try to do some damage control and get a result that keeps you out of custody and avoid some of the more harsh penalties that come along with a continuous sexual abuse of a minor case.
For those charged with Penal Code Section 288.5, continuous sexual abuse of a child, they are typically facing somewhere north of 20 years in prison with a very high bail -- over a million dollars.
When we're talking about that crime, we're talking about somebody who is having some sexual connection with a minor, typically over the age of 14 but under the age of 18, and it happens over some time. It's not just one charge like Penal Code 288(a). That's sexual contact with a minor one time. But when you do it over time, that's more damaging to the child, and you're facing much more time in prison.
We have you come into the office, and we go over all of the facts and circumstances of your case. I also want to meet with your loved one and get all of the information from them so we can see their perspective– because sometimes the police do a one-sided investigation that does not consider all of the facts and circumstances related to a particular person. They don't look at everything that happened in a case.
One of the first things we will do is assess whether you or your loved one in a 288.5 case has a defense to the case. If you have a reason, then we will build on that defense, investigate, get experts, and see if any witnesses can support that defense, to get ready to fight the case. If, on the other hand, you don't have a defense and you're going to be proven guilty, then we're looking at damage control.
We're looking at trying to see if doing the preliminary hearing might help your defense or might put the defendant in a bad position, and then we'll put together what's called a mitigation package so I can meet with the head prosecutor or even the head prosecutor in downtown LA so we can figure out exactly what it is going to take to get you the best possible result. Call the Hedding Law Firm for a free case evaluation.