These are some of the most seriously prosecuted cases in Los Angeles County and across the country. Courts, police, prosecutors, and judges want to protect minors, so they're going to dole out some severe punishment for individuals involved with any sexual contact with a minor.
Sex with a minor in California (under 18) is illegal even if consent was given or the minor initiated the sexual activity.
Possible consequences include jail or prison time, probation, and mandatory sex offender registration. The collateral consequences of a conviction for sex with a minor have limitations on where you can live or work, along with a negative social stigma.
California also allows civil penalties for defendants convicted on specific Penal Code 261.5 statutory rape cases. The sentences are based on the age difference between the minor and adult defendant.
The exact penalties will always depend on the type of crime and the nature of the offense, including the specific age of the minor and the defendant's age.
The most severe consequence of a conviction for a sex crime involving a minor is prison time. The length of the sentence will depend on the type of sex act, whether force was used, and the defendant's criminal record.
Most sex crimes involving minors are felonies that carry over a one-year sentence, while misdemeanors carry under one year in jail. Our California sex crime attorneys will review further below.
What About the Ages of the Parties Involved?
To evaluate it, though, I think first you have to look at the age of the participants. In other words, they're going to treat someone, for example, 18 years old and is having sex with a 17-year-old, different from somebody who is 50-years-old and having sex with somebody under the age of 18.
That age difference is not only an essential factor mentally, but it's also a massive factor in the state of the law -- the Penal Codes.
The Penal Codes punish people, for example, ten years older than the victim, much more severely than somebody who is only a few years older than the victim. So, that's number one:
- You've got to look at the age;
- How old is the victim?
- How old is the perpetrator?
Not only from a standpoint from “that's not right,” but also from the standpoint of the Penal Code Section that you're charged with because a lot of those statutes, the charge ranges are severe when it comes to dealing with a minor.
Also, those individuals who are trafficking minors will probably be treated the worst versus somebody who is touching or having sex with a minor in an inappropriate manner.
California does not have a Romeo and Juliet Law that protects people from statutory rape charges when they are close in age.
Will You Have to Register as a Sex Offender Registration?
So, when you talk about the consequences of what can happen when you have sex with a minor, you have to look at registering as a sex offender.
For most charges relating to minors, you're going to have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. You also have to look at going to prison.
I would also say that most people who are convicted of having any sexual conduct with a minor will go to prison, and then lastly, you have to look at those hefty charges and those significant sentences.
What are the California Laws Related to Sex with a Minor?
There are numerous statutes in California prohibiting sex with a minor, including:
- Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape;
- Penal Code 647.6 PC – annoying or molesting a child;
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor;
- Penal Code 287 PC – oral copulation with a minor;
- Penal Code 288.2 PC – send harmful matter to a minor;
- Penal Code 288.3 PC – contact a minor to commit a felony;
- Penal Code 288.4 PC – arrange a meeting with a minor;
- Penal Code 288.5 PC – continuous sexual abuse of a child;
- Penal Code 288.7 PC – sexual acts with a child under 10.
What are the Factors Considered for Lengthily Prison Terms?
This area -- I've been doing this for 30 years -- is the area I see people going to prison for the most extended period.
If the minor is under a certain age and it is a continuous course of conduct related to sexual contact, I can't tell you how many people are facing life, 15 to life, 25 to life. That gives the prosecutors a lot of power.
So, they're doling out sentences of 20, 30 years, and then the person squawks about it and says, why am I getting such a significant sentence? They say to the defense attorney, look what they did and what they're facing.
You want to go to trial, you go to trial and lose, your client will get 25 to life. The judge won't have any discretion but give them 25 to life.
Family Members Seeking Legal Representation
Often, I see family members in these real severe sex crime cases looking for attorneys for their loved ones. They can't believe the fees that the attorneys are charging and some of the punishments that these people are facing. The high fees are because of what these people are looking at. All the marbles are on the line.
The people are spending the rest of their lives in prison, so obviously, you want to get the best criminal defense attorney -- someone who's done these types of cases, someone who knows the prosecutors, judges, and court where the case is pending. That's crucial. You have to know who you're dealing with.
For example, in Los Angeles County, as far as sex crimes go and as far as other crimes go, the District Attorney's office is like a corporation. In other words, they've got a whole structure, a whole hierarchy when it comes to these sex crimes.
First, you get somebody assigned to the case. Typically, it's not just dealt with in a general manner like most crimes. Next, that person has a supervisor, and the person above them has a supervisor.
So, criminal defense attorneys have to know how to operate in that environment. They've got to know how to deal with cases, who to meet with, what evidence to bring forth to show that your client shouldn't go to prison for the rest of their life. There's a whole host of things.
So, if you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime, and you're worried, and you know that they're facing a lot of time in prison, pick up the phone now.
Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I will go over with you the potential consequences of the particular crime you're loved one is charged with, and then we'll get together a game plan to do everything we can to help them. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case evaluation.