Los Angeles Child Sex Abuse Attorney
A conviction for child sex abuse in California brings with it a multitude of penalties and debilitating long-ranging consequences. The age of the child, the relationship between the defendant and the child, the place where the event occurred, whether there was threatened or extensive physical harm, and the very specific circumstances of the encounter all play a role in determining whether the prosecutor will charge an offense as a misdemeanor or as a felony. In these times, with the California statute of limitations extended to permit suit many years later, it is more likely that any charge will begin as a felony.
A felony conviction means a sentence to be served in state prison, perhaps even for life, lifetime registration as a convicted sex offender, and the consequences of that label, which affect one’s ability to earn a living, to live wherever, and to be eligible for government benefits including public housing.
With such penalties looming, retaining talented and aggressive counsel early in a child sex abuse investigation or arrest is necessary to preserve your options and to protect your rights as an individual. Contact RP Criminal Defense Law to schedule a consultation to permit our Los Angeles-based child sex abuse defense attorneys to assess the strength of the government’s case and to guide you through the steps of the prosecution to ensure fairness and strict compliance with constitutional and statutory mandates. We are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. RP Criminal Defense Law provides individualized representation backed by experience and a thorough understanding of all aspects of child sex abuse prosecutions and criminal procedure.
What is Child Sex Abuse?
Child sex abuse includes a range of behaviors, including those that intentionally harm a minor child under 18 through sexual, psychological, or physical acts. There is no need for actual physical contact with an underage boy or girl to be charged, although most indictments do indeed involve physical contact between the defendant and the victim.
The most common types of child sex abuse include:
- Child maltreatment or sexual misconduct harming the minor’s physical, emotional, or mental welfare
- Exposing genitalia to a minor
- Forcing a child to masturbate in front of an adult
- Masturbating in the presence of a minor
- Sending obscene messages or pictures to a child via text messages, phone calls, or digital activity on a computer
- Sex trafficking
- Sexual activity—anal, oral, or vaginal—performed on a minor
- Sexual intercourse
- Sharing, owning, or producing pornography involving children
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Sex Abuse Charges
How likely is it that a claim of child sex abuse is false?
There is contradictory research regarding the likelihood of false accusations when child sex abuse is charged. Some research shows that false claims are not reported at a higher rate. However, other research shows that false claims might be as high as 10% of all claims.
When is a false claim most likely to occur?
Children ordinarily will not falsely claim child sex abuse unless prompted by an adult. And that adult is most commonly a beleaguered spouse or former partner involved in a divorce or separation, child custody, or child support contest where the claim is made to leverage an advantage during those proceedings. A false claim can also occur if a child misunderstands the nature of a relationship with an adult, and that confusion comes out as a false claim.
What Are the Penalties for Child Sex Abuse in California?
The penalties for child sex abuse depend on what criminal acts were actually charged and whether they were prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Conviction means lifelong registration as a sex offender.
Annoying or molesting a child is usually charged as a misdemeanor but still carries with it a possible sentence of one year in county jail, and of course, lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Lewd acts or molestation of a child is charged as a felony with 3-16 years in state prison, lifetime registration as a sex offender, and possible restitution, paying for the victim’s medical and psychological treatment. It is also considered a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. Lewd acts or molestation by use of force is more severely punished with 5-10 years in state prison.
Physical abuse of a child or child endangerment charged as a misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to 1 year in county jail, but if charged as a felony might mean 2-6 years in state prison.
Possession of child pornography, if charged as a misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to 1 year in county jail, but if charged as a felony means 2-6 years in state prison.
Legal Defense for Child Sex Abuse Charges
For years children were not believed, especially when the accused abuser was a relative or religious leader, a teacher, or a coach. However, we have all learned that adults in positions of authority can and do engage in predatory acts. Prosecutors and juries are more believing of accusers now so charges of child sex abuse are often difficult to defend. There are often no witnesses, no DNA, and no physical evidence to corroborate allegations of abuse. A successful defense often involves exposing the motivations of the accusing child, or custodial parent, and attacking the credibility of their testimony. Because of the sympathy, the child often elicits from the prosecutors and juries, retaining a skilled and experienced child sex abuse lawyer is essential to maintaining your liberty and defending any charges.
Child Sex Abuse Lawyer Serving Los Angeles & San Bernadino
Facing a charge of child sex abuse can mean not just the loss of your freedom with a jail or prison sentence, but a lifelong obligation to register annually as a sex offender. You deserve a fair assessment of the strength of the prosecution’s case to determine how best to proceed. You also deserve representation that will bring skill and expertise to examining the police reports and laboratory reports to fully understand the weight of evidence, and the savvy one gets from years of experience representing criminal defendants in the Los Angeles and San Bernadino courts. Our offices are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. Only seasoned criminal defense attorneys can realistically evaluate the evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and the predilection of the trial judge. Call us at (818) 646-3443 or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.