What Factors Determine If You Will Get Life in Prison If Convicted of Sex with a Child?
California prosecutors and judges treat this crime very seriously, and even the police as they investigate them.
When you're thinking about whether your loved one may get life in prison, you must assess several different factors.
You're going to want to hire the best attorney possible to defend your loved one and try to pull out all the stops to either get a not guilty verdict if they're innocent or try to mitigate things if they're guilty and avoid a life sentence in prison.
That is an objective reality if someone is convicted or pleads guilty to the crime of sex with a child.
One of the significant determining factors that I've noticed is that the number of times the individual is accused of having sex with a child, whether it is a pattern over some time, will be one of the most significant factors in determining whether they're facing an actual life sentence.
Also, prosecutors, police, and judges will look at what's called a static 99 report, which is a report that assesses whether or not your loved one is a danger to future children, should they get a sentence and be able to get out of custody.
In addition to that, a report from a psychiatrist who specializes in evaluating those individuals who commit sex crimes would also be relevant.
Several tests can be run to determine whether or not the person is likely to be a recidivist, to assess their dangerousness level related to society and children.
Our California sex crime defense lawyers will take a closer look at the laws below.
Lewd Acts with a Minor - Penal Code 288 PC
California Penal Code 288 PC prohibits anyone from engaging in any lewd or lascivious act with a minor, which are described as indecent acts of a sexual nature. This sex crime statute is frequently called child molestation.
Under the law, “lewd and lascivious” conduct is described as the following acts:
- Any sexual acts considered offensive to common standards of behavior, or
- Any conduct related to immoral sexual intent or behavior.
Typically, PC 288 lewd acts refer to a criminal offense where an adult has sexual contact with a minor child, for either:
- Touching a child with the intent to achieve sexual gratification,
- Causing a child to touch themselves for a sexual purpose.
Under Penal Code 288 PC, if the minor was under 14, it is always a felony and a “strike” under California's three-strikes law.
It should be noted that any person who engages in sexual conduct with a minor can be prosecuted for a crime because minors can't give sexual consent under California law.
Lewd and lascivious conduct is also described as sexual activity appealing to the accused's lust, passions, sexual desires, or a victim.
Usually, lewd conduct will require physical contact but no penetration.
If you are convicted of Penal Code 288 PC, you will be facing up to eight years in prison, and you will also be ordered to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC.
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child – Penal Code 288.5 PC
California Penal Code 288.5 defines the crime of continuous sexual abuse of a child as engaging in 3 or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child under 14 years that occurs over three months or more.
The unlawful conduct has to occur from somebody who resides in the same home or has regular access to the child. This felony sex offense is punishable by up to 16 years in a California state prison if convicted.
Penal Code 288 PC, which is related to this statute, makes it a crime to commit just one lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 and punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment.
However, PC 288.5 makes it a more serious offense for someone with access to continuously sexually abuse a child under fourteen. These criminal charges become much more severe with more alleged acts.
If you are convicted of PC 288.5, continuous sexual abuse of a child, there will be a mandatory requirement to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC.
Lewd and lascivious conduct
“Lewd and lascivious conduct” is described as the willful touching of a minor with the intent to arouse the child or the accused sexually.
It's not required to have contact with a child's bare skin or their private parts, rather any of the following:
- the defendant may touch any part of the minor's body, or
- the clothes the child is wearing, or
- causing a minor to touch their own body, or
- another person's body for sexual gratification.
Related California crimes are Penal Code 288b1 lewd acts with a minor by force or fear and Penal Code 288.7 sexual acts with a little under ten years old.
Factors That Determine Sentencing if Convicted
These are some of the biggest things that prosecutors and judges will be looking at in determining whether they seek a life sentence against your loved one. Of course, they will also look at:
- the facts and circumstances surrounding the particular case,
- the age of the child,
- the vulnerability of the child,
- what the child's connection is to the individual who is charged.
They will also look at the person's criminal record to determine if they've ever been convicted of any other sex-related offenses or any other offenses related to the particular child.
Once all of these factors are evaluated, your attorney would sit down with the prosecutor or judge to discuss the case and decide whether or not, in actual potential, a life sentence would be warranted under the circumstances of the particular case.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having a loved one charged with having sex with a child who has a large bail and is facing a lot of time in custody, you've come to the right place.
Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to put my nearly 30 years of experience to work for you.
Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation by calling 213-542-0979.