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
Child abuse is the act or acts that
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
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). This is known as
Possession of Child Pornography – California Penal Code 311.11: It is unlawful for any person to
knowingly possess or control
child porn, including 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
- 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 criminal defense attorney