Los Angeles Child Abuse Attorney
Have You Been Accused of Child Abuse?
If you are under investigation for or charged with Child Abuse you should
immediately consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.
Do not, under any circumstances, talk to the police or anyone regarding
the Child Abuse allegations before hiring an attorney. Anything you say
can and will be used against you in a criminal case. Talking to the police,
the victim or to family members 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.
In fact, the penalties for sexual child abuse convictions (specifically
with children under the age of 14) in California are quite severe and
in many cases result in a harsher sentence than those convicted for murder.
Such charges must be aggressively defended from the start! Please contact
the criminal defense team at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to get
a no-charge confidential case evaluation.
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 or Lascivious Acts Upon a Child -
Penal Code sections 288(a), 288.5: In California, most child sexual abuse or child molestation
sex crime cases are charged under these sections 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. Each unique act of child abuse can be charged as a separate
criminal count potentially resulting in a criminal complaint with multiple
acts of Child Abuse. Penal Code section 288.5 is charged in cases where
the number and the date of incidents involving the abuse are vague. Penal
Code section 288.5 punishes “continuous sexual abuse” of a
child over a period of 3 months involving 3 or more incidents of child abuse.
Lewd or Lascivious Act On A Child /Using Force or Violence -California
Penal Code section 288(b)(2). This crime is similar to Penal Code section 288(a) crime (see above) except that the perpetrator uses force, violence, duress, menace, or
fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the child.
Physical Abuse of a Child –
California 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 –
California 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 –
California Penal Code section 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
statutory rape. Sexual intercourse is defined as any vaginal penetration, regardless
of however slight.
Possession of Child Pornography –
California Penal Code section 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 section 647.6:
Annoy or molest a child refers to conduct aimed at a child, which is motivated by a strange sexual
interest in a child, and which likely disturbs or irritates the child.
It includes making sexual advances to the 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 include the following:
Lewd Acts/Molestation: These crimes are charged as felonies and carry lengthy state prison sentences,
3 to 16 years. Additional penalties include
sex registration for life; payment for victim's medical or psychological treatment,
a "Strike" according to the
Three Strikes Law.
Lewd Acts/ Molestation By Use Of Force: These crimes are prosecuted as felonies and are punishable by five to ten
years in state prison.
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 Abuse or 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: Can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor it carries
a sentence of up to one year in county jail and if a felony then it is
punishable by 16 months to three years in prison. A conviction requires
life-long sex registration.
Statutory Rape: If the unlawful sexual intercourse is with a minor, who is not more than
three years younger than the perpetrator, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor
punishable by up to one year in county jail. If the unlawful sexual intercourse
is with a minor who is more than three years younger than the perpetrator,
the crime can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, punishable by
one year in county jail or 16 months to four years in state prison. No
sex registration is required.
Annoying or Molesting a Child: Usually charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county
jail. A felony can be charged if there is a prior conviction and is child
punishable by up to three years in state prison. If there is a felony
prior similar prior conviction there is a potential state prison sentence
of 2 to 6 years. Sex registration for life is also required.
If you are convicted of child abuse or any other sexually-related crime
involving a child, you will be required to register as a sex offender
for life. 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.
Experienced & Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyers
Child Sexual Abuse cases are the most difficult cases to defend –
even harder to defend than murder. With murder or other crimes, prosecutors
require some corroborative evidence before filing charges and juries likewise
would rely on that evidence to convict. In child sexual abuse cases there
are often no witnesses, DNA or physical evidence – in fact there
may be no evidence other than the child's statements to law enforcement.
So these cases come down to a “he said – she said” case
where the entire case will depend solely on the victim's testimony
versus that of the accused. The credibility of the child victim is the
sole driving force in many of these cases. Why is that? Part of the reason
is that prosecutors, courts, juries, and society as a whole view child
abuse crimes as the most vile and despicable crimes in our society. Consequently,
juries are more sympathetic with child victims and are more likely to
believe an unconfirmed and uncorroborated accusation by the child victim
with little or virtually no evidence, which could result in a conviction
and a lengthy state prison sentence.
The criminal defense team at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have the
knowledge, skill, and experience to defend you in simple and complicated
child abuse cases. We will help you navigate the complex and intimidating
criminal court system. We have a successful track record representing
clients in these types of cases. With over 70 years of combined criminal
law experience, we work closely with our clients to build a defense and
obtain the best possible outcome.
To schedule a confidential consultation
contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney