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Juvenile Sex Crimes

Juvenile Sexual Related Offenses California

Having practiced juvenile law and dealt explicitly with sex crimes over the last twenty-five years, I've seen several cases filed and different results from my young clients. 

Really what I'm aimed at in these juvenile cases – whether they be sex crimes or otherwise – is to set things up for my young client to stay out of custody and recover from whatever happens to them in the juvenile court. 

In other words, we're trying to set things up so that when all is said and done, they get on the right path, and they do not have a record that can later be used against them when they try to seek a job further their future.

Juvenile sex crimes are serious because usually, the victim in the case is a juvenile as well. The prosecutors and judges take these types of crimes grave because they are trying to protect the youth of society and the public at large.  

So, when it comes to these types of cases, we have to have an excellent strategy to properly defend the juvenile against some of the harsh realities that start to stack up against them when it comes to a juvenile-related sex crime.

What is Somebody Facing if They Have a Juvenile Sex Crime Case?

There are several different punishments available to the judge and penalties available to the judge in a juvenile sex crime case.  First, you have to look at what they will do with the minor?  Are they going to keep the little in custody, or will they allow the minor to stay out of control?

Juvenile Sex Crimes in Los Angeles

One potential ramification at the low end would be giving the minor a diversionary program where they don't get convicted of anything because they don't get sentenced for their crime. 

They are given some sort of rehabilitative measure like sex offender programs, community service, and then a probationary period. Then they can get the charges knocked off their record and move on with their life. 

Another potential ramification is that they can give the person home on probation where they get to continue to go to school, stay with their family, the probation department keeps an eye on them, and then eventually – depending on what type of a crime it is – they can get the sex offense sealed and destroyed and move on with their life.

The more serious offenders will try to put those people in some camp, placement, or even the youth authority, the juvenile prison. 

In determining this type of punishment, the prosecutors and judge are going to look at the seriousness of the crime, the person's prior criminal record, how they're doing in school, how they're doing at home, their impact on the victim, and a host of other related considerations when it comes to a sex crime case in juvenile court. 

Their defense attorney and how they handle the case are crucial as well.  That's why I have people come in, give me all the details, be real specific, don't omit anything, and don't put a spin on things so that I can kind of get down to the nitty-gritty and figure out what can be done to get you done the best possible result.

When it comes to results, what you're trying to do as a defense attorney is minimize the charges or get a not-guilty verdict if the client is innocent.  But if they are not blameless and you're trying to reduce the cost, you will want to attempt to set something up that can be sealed and destroyed. 

There are a lot of different issues when it comes to sealing and destroying a juvenile's record in a sex crime case. 

Factors like their age, the type of offense they committed, and several other issues come up. The most seasoned juvenile defense attorneys who are familiar with sex crime cases in Los Angeles are the ones who want to help you out with these types of cases.

Are there Defenses to Juvenile Sex Crime Cases?

Of course, there are defenses.  Most of the time, a stronghold in any criminal case – but real specifically in juvenile sex cases – is going to hinge on the facts of the particular case.  Are there witnesses?  Is there direct evidence?  Is there circumstantial evidence? 

These are the questions that a reasonable juvenile defense attorney will ask in evaluating the case and what the best course of action is moving forward.

So, in determining whether you have a defense, you have to look at what the person alleged to do?  What evidence do the prosecutors have against that person?  And what evidence does the security have to counter some of the prosecutor's arguments? 

In these juvenile sex crime cases, the defense attorney's job should be to get their client's version of events.  Let the client tell them what happened because a lot of times, the police don't get that information, and therefore, they are only operating with half the puzzle. 

My job is to get the other half of the puzzle, figure out the best course of action, and let the client know, and then myself, the client. Their family works together to ensure we get the best possible result protecting their freedom, future, and reputation.

At What Age Can Someone Be Charged?

To be charged and prosecuted as a juvenile sex offender in LA County, an individual must be under 18. The one exception to this is if an individual was under 18 when they committed a crime but over 18 when caught or found guilty of having committed that crime. Under such circumstances, the individual would be prosecuted at the juvenile level despite being over 18.

Does It Matter Whether The Victim Is Also A Minor?

In most juvenile sex crime matters that I have handled over the past 25 years, the alleged victims have been under the age of 18. However, this is not a requirement since juveniles could commit a sexual crime against someone over 18.

The specifics of juvenile sex crime charges will depend upon what the perpetrator did. Often, these acts involve some non-consensual touching, but there are many different possibilities.

Suppose someone has been charged with a juvenile sex offense. In that case, they must obtain a criminal defense attorney who has handled these types of issues in their particular jurisdiction.

Differences Between Juvenile And Adult Sex Crime?

Both juvenile and adult sex crimes in LA County are severe and can result in the perpetrator being taken into custody. In juvenile cases, perpetrators are more likely to face time in a young home than in prison or jail.

However, some juveniles will receive sentences that will extend into adulthood. While the crimes are the same for child and adult-related sex offenses, the punishments a judge can sentence differ. Ultimately, a defendant's punishment will depend on what they did and on the age of the victim. Prosecutors who handle juvenile sex cases also handle adult sex cases.

Depending on the type of offense someone commits, they might have to register as a sex offender. However, registration requirements can be negotiated by experienced and knowledgeable defense attorneys.

What if the Sex Acts were Consensual?

The age of consent is 18 years old, which means that before you can have any sexual contact or sexual intercourse with someone, you have to be at least 18 years old.

This is not the same in all states, but it is in Los Angeles, California. Suppose the prosecutors find out that someone has engaged in some sexual activity with someone under the age of 18, and they feel they have the evidence to prosecute that person. In that case, they will charge that person with a sex crime or multiple sex crimes depending on the circumstances and prosecute them.

Or, I've seen this come up repeatedly when someone has consensual sex with another person under the age of 18, becomes pregnant, goes to the hospital, has their child, and wants to know who the father is at the hospital.

Once it's determined that the father is someone who is over the age of 18 and the individual who is giving birth is under the age of 18, at that point, the police will be contacted. They will attempt to do a DNA test and prove that the father had sex with someone under 18, and they will prosecute those cases throughout Los Angeles, California.

It becomes a little dicier when two parties under 18 have consensual sex. That puts the police and prosecutors in a challenging position as to who to prosecute, and a lot of times, they don't charge those cases.

Now, if it's a situation where there's any force, they will prosecute the individual who forced themselves upon another person related to sexual contact. But, if it's consensual and the ages are relatively close – for example, two 17-year old's have sex, in my experience, it's unlikely to see that prosecuted by the police and prosecutors.

Neither party will be a witness against the other because they're both probably together. Secondly, if they were to testify against one party, they would be subject to cross-examination, and they could potentially be prosecuted the other way.

Prosecution of Two Underage Parties

So, it's tough to prosecute cases where two parties are underage for some sex-related offense. As far as cases where it's close – maybe one party is 18, and one party is 17, they're not going to prosecute those particular cases. Still, the further apart away the ages are, the more likely the prosecutors are to charge a specific topic.

They're trying to do justice and do what they think is right. Also, they need to have the availability of witnesses and testimony to prosecute anybody for anything because the prosecutors know that an excellent criminal defense attorney will attack their evidence when they can do so.

So, these underage sex cases are being filed all the time, and the bottom line is that when they test whether someone knew or reasonably should have known that the other party was underage, they're going to look at a lot of surrounding facts.

If they can't get clear evidence that the party who had sex with the underage person knew that the person was underage, that would certainly be a defense in any sex crime prosecution in Los Angeles. So, that's what they're going to try to do first.

In other words, if the person's age is close to 18 and they look 18 or more, then the prosecutors and police know that they must prove that the other party knew or reasonably should have known, based on the circumstances that they were having some sexual contact with somebody under the age of 18. 

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

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