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Sex Crimes - Child Molestation

Aggressive Los Angeles Child Molestation Attorneys

Child molestation is a serious offense which carries the potential for significant jail time and other consequences – some of which can last a lifetime. If you or a loved one is being investigated for child molestation (or any other sex acts involving a minor child), your freedom and future are in jeopardy. If convicted, there is a good chance that you will be required to register as a sex offender, making information about your case easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Many sex offenders are required to register for life and experience significant collateral consequences, including:

  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Exclusion from social events
  • Damage to their reputation in their community
  • Problems finding a place to live
  • Disqualification from certain jobs

The Constitution provides legal protections and rights to the accused even before formal charges are filed against them. Therefore, it is important to consult with a Los Angeles child molestation attorney as soon as you become aware of a law enforcement investigation.

The sooner a CA defense attorney becomes involved in a sex crimes case, the better he or she will be able to protect a person from illegal investigative techniques, incriminating statements, improper subpoenas, and other evidence which can impair a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial. To schedule a consultation with one of our LA Criminal defense lawyers, call the Law Offices of David S. Chesley today at 800-755-5174 or contact us online.

What is Child Molestation?

Child molestation is covered by the California Penal Code's ban on "lewd or lascivious acts." Section 288(a) requires a prison sentence of three, six, or eight years for such acts that are committed upon a child under the age of 14 years. Lewd and lascivious acts are defined as those which arouse, appeal to, or gratify the lust, passions or sexual desires of the perpetrator or the child. Molestation falls under this definition and is therefore prosecuted under this statute. Other sex acts can also meet this legal definition

The statute also provides longer sentences when aggravating factors (those which increase criminal liability) are present, and shorter sentences when mitigating factors (those which decrease criminal liability) are found. Section 228(b) enhances sentences to five, eight, or ten years when the act is committed by:

  • Force
  • Violence
  • Duress
  • Menace
  • The fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury

These enhanced sentences also apply when the defendant is a caretaker to the victim. Section 288(c) provides reduced sentences when the victim is 14 or 15 years old (and the defendant is at least ten years older than the child). Under these circumstances, the defendant may be sentenced to one, two or three years in prison. A defendant who pleads guilty or is convicted of this offense can also be given a sentence of one year or less in the county jail.

In addition to these prison terms, a court can also order a defendant who has been convicted of lewd and lascivious acts to pay a fine up to $10,000. The fine is determined by the judge, who must consider all relevant factors, such as the gravity of the offense, and the circumstances in which it was committed. (Interestingly, such a fine cannot be ordered for those defendants convicted under the mitigated sentence for a 14 or 15-year-old victim.)

Problems Presented by Child Witnesses Can Cast Doubt on the Prosecution’s Case

One of the most common problems in a child molestation case is the reliability of the evidence against the defendant. Many such cases do not result in any physical evidence. As a result, the verdict often becomes a case of he said/she said, in which the jury must decide to believe the testimony of either a child victim or a defendant charged with criminal sex acts. He said/she said situations are problematic when all testifying parties are adults. When an involved party is a child, they become fraught with danger to the defendant’s Constitutional rights.

In the past, a child presented as a victim has been granted wide believability by juries. This has been stretched to extreme proportions. For example, in 1983, a Los Angeles mother alleged that her child had been sexually abused at the McMartin Preschool. This caused a domino effect which resulted in hundreds of other allegations (fueled in no small part by the fact that the Manhattan Beach Police Department sent all parents a highly suggestive letter urging them to report any suspected abuse). Eventually, these allegations became absurd. Satanic rituals, secret tunnels, flying witches were all reported by children who had attended the McMartin Preschool. The New York Times also reports that the mental state of the mother who made the initial report was highly questionable. After $15 million dollars spent on a prosecution that spanned seven years, not one conviction was obtained, yet lives were ruined as a result of the mass hysteria.

How a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Ensure That Testimony of a Child Witness is Used Fairly

The Supreme Court has issued several opinions to ensure that a defendant's constitutional right to cross-examination is not overrun by the testimony of a child witness. In 1990, the Court held that it was permissible for a child victim to testify via closed-circuit television, rather than being present in the courtroom with the jury and the defendant. This was because the defense attorney still had the opportunity to cross-examine the witness, and the jury was still able to observe the demeanor of the witness in order to determine credibility. (See Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836.) It was also found to be permissible only when the state could show a sufficiently important public policy in restricting face-to-face confrontation (for which there is a "constitutional preference"). In the Craig case, the child witness was reported to suffer severe emotional trauma at the sight of the defendant. The Supreme Court determined that the State of Maryland had a sufficient interest in protecting children from such trauma.

In addition to these procedural safeguards, a defendant also has the opportunity to attack the substance of a dubious testimony. This is where the skill of an experienced California criminal defense lawyer is indispensable. It is difficult to point out inconsistencies in a child's testimony without becoming off-putting to a jury, but this difficult step is necessary in order to protect a defendant's constitutional rights. An experienced sex crimes defense lawyer in California will be able to highlight inaccuracies in a child's testimony without coming across as a bully. This can be done in a cross-examination, but it can also be done in the opening or closing statements. Testimony of other witnesses can also be used to rebut a child's testimony. In some cases, the inaccuracies in a child's testimony are due to inappropriate interviewing techniques used by law enforcement officials. These, too, must be challenged in order to protect a defendant's constitutional rights. Child development experts can testify about the dangers of suggestive interviews. All of these methods allow a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles to highlight weaknesses in the prosecutor's case without attacking the child him- or herself.

Experienced Los Angeles Sex Crimes Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Child Molestation Case

The consequences of a child molestation conviction are severe. They can lead to decades in prison, fines, penalties, sex offender registration, and even civil lawsuits. Because the consequences of a conviction are so severe, it is critical that defendants have good legal advice from the beginning of a child molestation case. This begins before charges are even filed. Statements made to detectives during an investigation can incriminate a defendant and make a conviction inevitable. Defendants should, therefore, consult with a Los Angeles defense attorney as soon as they become aware of a law enforcement investigation.

Call (800) 755-5174 today or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. We aggressively defend all defendants' constitutional rights throughout the criminal case process.

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Prostitution

According to the Penal Code 647(b), any person who solicits accepts to engage in or engages in any act of prostitution in return to receive money or anything of value from the other person commits the crime of disorderly conduct.

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Lewd Acts

Soliciting or engaging in lewd acts in public place or a place in public view is a crime in California and the deviants are dealt harshly with punishments including jail time and monetary fines.

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Rape

Rape is one of the worst crime, and a citation for rape means that you are in the row for severe punishments. California has one of the strictest stances against rape and severely punishes the victim.

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Child Molestation

Child molestation laws are one of the strictest criminal laws in California and carry prison sentences for convicts.

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Sex Offender

If you have been convicted of a sex crime in California, you are required to register yourself as a sex offender even after completing your sentence.

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Sexual Battery

California Penal laws distinguish between the simple battery and sexual battery and have more severe punishments for the persons charged with sexual battery.

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Recent Results

  • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

  • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

  • Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

  • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

  • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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