Los Angeles Child Abuse Attorney

Child Abuse Charges in LA

Accused of child abuse or child molestation? If you have been arrested or are under investigation in Los Angeles, you should immediately consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer from our office to discuss your situation. In order to defend against allegations of child abuse or molestation, you must first come to grips with the reality of our criminal justice system. Talking to law enforcement or to family members is not recommended and will only make your situation worse.

Crimes involving children carry very serious consequences and often there is a presumption of guilt associated with these crimes, not only by law enforcement but by the community at large. Due to this presumption of guilt, lenient sentences such as little or no jail time and probation are generally not on the negotiating table with most prosecuting agencies. Such charges must be aggressively defended from the start! Please contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to get a no-charge confidential case evaluation.

California Law

Child abuse is the act or acts that physically, sexually or emotionally injure a child. Depending on the circumstances, there may be a number of California criminal laws that will come into play if you have been accused of acting inappropriately with a child. For example:

  • Lewd and Lascivious Acts Upon a Child - Penal Code 288, 288.5: In California, most child sexual abuse or child molestation sex crime cases are charged under this section of the Penal Code. Child molestation occurs when any lewd or lascivious act is committed on a child under 14 years old with the "intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of that person or the child." A lewd or lascivious act refers to any touching of the child with the intent to sexually arouse the perpetrator (defendant) or the child. If the defendant asks the child to touch the defendant, it is also considered sexual abuse. A lewd and lascivious act includes touching any part of the child's body, either on the bare skin or through the clothing of the child.
  • Physical Abuse of a Child - Penal Code 273d: Beating or inflicting cruel or corporal punishment on a child. Corporal punishment includes any kind of punishment inflicted on the body.
  • Abuse or Endangerment to a Child - Penal Code 273a (a): Child endangerment can be charged when any person under conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or suffering or having the care or custody of a child willfully causes or permits the child to be placed in a situation where the child's person or health may have been endangered.
  • Statutory Rape - Penal Code 261.5: It is a crime to engage in sexual intercourse with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator and who is a minor (under 18 years of age).
  • Possession of Child Pornography – California Penal Code 311.11: It is unlawful for any person who knowingly possesses or controls any image, photograph, video, files, computer generated image, or other representation, which shows a child under 18 years of age engaging in or simulating sexual behavior.
  • Annoying or Molesting a Child – California Penal Code 647.6: It is unlawful for anyone to annoy or molest a child. Annoy refers to conduct designed to disturb or irritate especially by continued or repeated acts. Molest suggests making sexual advances to a child. In order to be convicted of this crime there does not have to be a lewd act or any actual touching.

Penalties and Sentencing

Specific penalties for convictions of child abuse and child molestation charges include the following:

  • Lewd Acts/Molestation: These crimes are charged as felonies and carry lengthy state prison sentences, 3 to 16 years. Additions include sex registration for life; payment for victim's medical or psychological treatment, a "Strike" according to the Three Strikes Law.
  • Physical Abuse of a Child: If charged as a misdemeanor, the sentence is up to one year county jail and if a felony, the sentence is 2-6 years in state prison.
  • Child Endangerment: If charged as a misdemeanor, the sentence is up to one year county jail and if charged as a felony, the sentence is 2-6 years in state prison.
  • Possession of Child Pornography: If charged as a felony it is punishable by 16 months to 3 years in state prison. As a misdemeanor it carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail. A conviction requires life-ling sex registration.
  • Statutory Rape: If charged as a misdemeanor, the sentence is up to one year county jail. If charged as a felony, the sentence is 16 months-4 years state prison. No sex registration.
  • Annoying or Molesting a Child: If a misdemeanor, the sentence is up to one year in county jail and if a felony up to three years in state prison. If there is a similar prior conviction there is a potential state prison sentence of 2 to 6 years. Sex registration for life is also required.

Penalty enhancements are possible in physical abuse or neglect charges and in sexual abuse charges. In physical abuse or neglect, if the child died as a result of the offense, an additional 4 year sentence can be added. In sexual abuse, if the child suffered great bodily harm from the offense, an additional and consecutive 5 year sentence can be added.

If you are convicted of child molestation or any other sexually-related crime involving a child, you will be required to register as a sex offender. According to California Penal Code Section 290, all sex offenders must register within 5 days of being released from prison as well as when an address or name is changed. You also must update your registration information annually. Some sex offenders, such as sexually violent predators, need to update registration information more frequently. Deliberately failing to register is a felony, punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Child Abuse Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

One of the reasons that child abuse charges are so dangerous is that there are often no witnesses and little evidence. An entire case can depend on the credibility of the defendant versus that of the victim. There are many reasons why a child might fail to tell the truth about being abused, such as:

  • Not understanding how serious statements that are made can be taken;
  • Being influenced by adults such as teachers, relatives or friends who believe that a child abuse claim should be made;
  • Wanting to please the other parent;
  • Wanting to retaliate against a parent because the child is unhappy in her or his home life;
  • Feeling a sense of power over and independence from the accused adult (teenagers).

You can rest assured that the criminal defense attorneys at our firm who defend these types of cases will know which questions to ask and what evidence is necessary to support a false accusation claim.

The reality in child abuse cases is that those convicted of child sexual abuse are more likely to serve a longer prison sentence that those who murder. Criminal defense attorneys who are not experienced in child abuse cases treat them like any other criminal case. This is wrong! Although in a child abuse case the standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) is the same, juries expect the defendants to prove their innocence rather than just defend it. The experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys at our firm believe that cases involving child abuse allegations require a proactive approach; it is not enough to simply defend the client. Let us put our 70 plus years of combined legal experience to work for you!

To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case and the legal options available to you, contact a Los Angeles child abuse attorney today.