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Child Molestation Punishments in California

Child molestation cases are probably among the most serious sex crime cases filed by Los Angeles prosecutors and most times they're trying to seek prison for those individuals who get themselves arrested and prosecuted for these type of offenses.

Penalties Depend on Various Factors

As far as how long in prison it will depend on a number of different factors.  First, they're going to look at the behavior of the individual.  What did they do?  What were the circumstances?  How long did they do it for?  Then they're going to look at the victim.

They're going to see how old the victim is.  What impact it had on the victim.  The age difference between the victim and the defendant.  So, there's a whole host of factors that they're looking at when deciding what to do.

And of course, the legislature has also stepped in and put punishments for certain offenses.  For example, you could be looking at a life sentence if the victim is young enough and also if the molestation is going on a long time — over the course of a period of time — and there's multiple occasions of it.

This is a big hammer for the prosecutors if they could potentially get 15 to life for example, or 25 to life, then the person is potentially looking at never coming out of prison again.

Then when they sit down and negotiate with that person and make them an offer to settle the case, if it's not a life offer the person has to seriously consider it because of the potential downside of going to trial and losing.

Different Types of California Child Molestation Crimes

There are many different types of California child molestation crimes, and all carry serious penalties. Child molestation crimes include:

Penal Code 288(a)– Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Child Under the Age of 14
Penal Code 288(b) – Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor by Force or Fear
Penal Code 288(c) – Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Child Age 14 or 15
Penal Code 647.6 – Annoying or Molesting a Child
Penal Code 288a – Oral Copulation with a Minor
Penal Code 288.4 – Soliciting a Minor for Lewd Purposes
Penal Code 288.5 – Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
Penal Code 288.7 – Sex with a Child Under the Age of 10
Penal Code 290 – Sex Offender Registration

In my experience — I've been doing this for 25 years and handled a lot of these type of cases — prosecutors and judges look at what the defendant did, the impact to the victim, the person's criminal record as well and then they decide what they think the punishment should be.

Then they can maneuver the charges around what they think that punishment should be.  So, if they think the person should get 10 years for what they did, they will come up with charges and even enhancements and special allegations so that they're able to work out a deal where they offer the person 10 years if they agree to plead guilty to certain charges.

A lot of people don't totally understand this, but it makes sense if they think a certain amount of time is an appropriate amount of time, then obviously they will maneuver things to make that a reality, and then if the person doesn't take the 10 years, for example, and the person is looking at life and they will take the offer away.  They will try to prosecute the person and obviously get the highest sentence they possibly can.

Sex Offender Registration – Penal Code 290

Punishment in sex crime cases has gone up significantly, and specifically in molestation cases where children are involved or young adults, the prosecutors show no mercy and they've got the judges behind them when it comes to seeking harsh penalties for these type of offenses.

Child Molestation Punishments in California

Also, sex registration is a big thing in these molestation cases because people who have children want to know who's living around them in their neighborhood so that they can protect their children.

That's the whole concept behind Megan's Law and the Megan's Law website is so that people know who he child molesters are and who the sex offenders are and they can take the appropriate step to protect their family.

So, this I another big punishment that is doled out, which is making the person plead guilty to a crime that cause them to register as a sex offender and also causes them to be put on the Megan's Law website so they can be tracked by police and the public can know who they are and where they are.  This is another huge punishment in addition to many years in person that prosecutors can seek in molestation-related offenses.

High Bail and Significant Custody Time

So, you're best bet if you're charged with a molestation case or you have a family member who's been taken into custody with a high bail and is looking at a lot of time in custody, is to sit down with an attorney.

Give them all the accurate information that you know about the case and then start to discuss with the attorney what some of the possible punishments are if you're going to have to plead guilty in the case because the prosecutor have the evidence against you.

That's another thing you want to discus with the attorney — what evidence is really necessary in a child molestation case in order to prove the case, because then you can evaluate what punishment range the person falls in because you're looking at what they're going to be charged with.

You're looking at what the potential time in custody is of certain charges.  You can't just do a generalization in molestation cases.  You have to look at all these factors that I'm mentioning and then you have to talk to the attorney.  You have to see who the judge is, who the prosecutor is, where the courthouse is.  It makes a big difference.

As I write this post, there's at least 25 courts in Los Angeles spread over a huge area and some are more harsh on molestation cases than others.  You can bet that all of them are going to be tough punishment-wise.

But there's certain courts where you know that the head prosecutor there has micro-managed the molestation cases and is going to make sure that people get their punishments in these cases, even more harshly than the rest of Los Angeles County.