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Understanding California Child Molestation Laws

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Sep 06, 2017

California child molestation laws prohibit anyone from engaging or attempting to engage in sexual acts with a minor under 18. Child molestation crimes are defined in under Penal Code 288, 287, 288.2, 288.3, 288.4, 288.5, 647.6 and 261.5 statutory rape. 

Understanding how the law works and why it was enacted related to molestation cases is crucial if you are charged with a sex crime.  Several different considerations must be taken into account if you are going to defend yourself properly or even work out a plea bargain with the prosecutors and judge in a criminal case.

The first important consideration to consider is the attorney you chose to represent you.  You want to select an attorney who has had success and experience defending those charged with sex-related offenses.  However, as you will see, your search and the factors you use to choose that attorney can be quite complex and require some thought and research.

First, you want to find an attorney who is local to the courthouse your case is pending and make sure they know the court system there and that they are liked and respected by the judges and prosecutors there.

The next consideration you should have relates to whether you will fight your case or try and negotiate a resolution.  To make this decision, you will have to understand the law surrounding your particular charges and decide whether the prosecutor can prove that you violated the specific elements of the direction you are charged with.

The more you know about child molestation laws, the easier it will be to match the law with your circumstances and make critical decisions. Of course, you will want to make those decisions with your attorney's advice and your common sense.

When deciding how you will proceed on your case, you should also consider the factors the prosecutor and judge will use to determine what you will be charged with and how harsh they will be in dealing with your case.  They will look at your criminal record, the alleged victim's age, the conduct involved with the crime, and a host of other factors that are particular to what you are being charged with.

To have the best chance of success in a child molestation case, you will also likely need a physiological report that addresses whether the person charged is likely to be a repeat offender.  Your attorney will help guide you through the approach that makes the most sense for you and your circumstances.

Learn What the Child Molestation Law are Meant to Guard Against

There have been many laws passed to protect children in our society.  The child molestation laws aim to make sure that law enforcement and the courts have the tools they need to deter these types of sex crimes and punish those offenders who endanger young people.  

For example, people are required to register as sex offenders for child molestation-type offenses so that authorities can track their movements and investigate crimes that occur near where child molesters live.

Also, the authorities deem the most dangerous child molester will be placed on the Internet so society can see where they live and guard against them re-offending.

The policies surrounding the molestation laws are mainly pointed at making sure that young people are protected. That law enforcement and the public can do their part in the constant fight to protect the children of America.

California is one of the harshest states in the nation regarding the laws related to child molestation.

They have added life sentences for many child-related offenses that did not have life attached to them in the past.

There has been a huge push to make many sex-related offenses, including child molestation, a strike-related offense for the California “Three Strikes Law” purposes.  Those sex crimes that strike require the defendant to serve eighty-five percent of their jail or prison time and put a strike on their record that doubles their sentence for any future felony conviction.

New Laws Coming related to Sex Registration and Why They are Coming Out

As I write this post, a legislature on the table will likely pass that will be more specific about who has to register and who does not.  Further, it appears that the sex crime registration requirements will be broken down into a three-tier system to make it much more understandable and more apparent who has to register as a child molester and who does not.  

It will also make less stringent sex registration requirements for some offenses and limit the length of the registration for others.

I feel confident the legislation will pass because the prosecutors of California and specifically Los Angeles support it.

 It is surprising to most that know the history of sex registration that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office would support any legislation that gives some sex offenders and those individuals charged with child molestation any break on their sentences or sex registration requirements.

They are supporting it because they realize how unfair the current law is for some offenders.  Treating everyone the same is never in the best interests of society and makes it very difficult for the right results to occur, even from the standpoint of the most ardent pro-prosecution individuals.

Once this law passes, it will be much easier to negotiate and resolve child molestation cases. The system will be fairer because the prosecutors will have more flexibility to treat those charged with sex crimes.

The new laws will also help people who have prior sex offenses and are suffering from a lifetime of registration when they should have to.  

Many offenders admitted crimes years ago that did not require them to register as sex offenders, only to find out years later that the government would change the law and make them register as sex offenders for the rest of their life.

Some of those same offenders would have never agreed to the negotiation they did if they knew that they would be forced to register as a sex offender and even be placed on the Internet under Megan's Law.

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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