A single charge of child sexual abuse can be enough to ruin a life. Whether you are merely facing the accusation, or you have already been arrested, you need to understand the legal penalties you face, the way these charges can affect your career, and what you can do to defend yourself. You need to speak to a Los Angeles child sexual abuse defense lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group knows how to help you. We built our firm on the simple belief that you are innocent until proven guilty. We will listen to your story, take your side, and fight for you and your freedom—both in and out of court. Let us give you a FREE consultation on your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as child sexual abuse in Los Angeles?
Many people think that only touching a child’s genitals or having sex with a minor would count as sexual abuse. But the law sees it differently. A wide range of actions can count as sex crimes depending on the circumstances, and all of them fall under the label of child sexual abuse.
This can include:
- Touching your own genitals, even through clothing, in the presence of a minor
- Exposing yourself to a minor
- Showing erotic or pornographic materials to a minor
- Intimate contact with a minor that does not necessarily involve the genitals
- Touching a minor’s genitals or having them touch your own genitals
- Any kind of sex act with a minor
This creates a wide net that prosecutors use to convict as many people as possible. Some of these situations can happen accidentally, while others may have been meant non-sexually. For example, even a long hug given by the wrong person under the wrong circumstances can be charged as a form of sexual contact.
What crimes can I be charged with for child sexual abuse in Los Angeles?
There are four main criminal offenses prosecutors use for child sexual abuse cases. They are:
- Lewd Acts with a Minor (CA Penal Code Section 288(a)). This is used for a wide range of acts or touching anytime the minor is under the age of 14 (or up to 15 if you are at least 10 years older).
- Continuous Abuse of a Child (CA Penal Code Section 288.5(a)). This is applied when you are accused of engaging in 3 or more separate acts of lewd conduct with a minor. The three instances do not have to be previous convictions; any three allegations over the course of 3 or more months can count. As with lewd acts, this mainly applies to children under 14.
- Sexual Battery (CA Penal Code Section 243.4). This charge has no age requirement, and is used even when adults are the victims. In child sex abuse cases it’s most often used when the minor is a teenager above 14 or older. Basically, if there was some kind of forced sexual contact—but not full intercourse—it is likely to be charged as sexual battery.
- Misdemeanor Child Molestation (CA Penal Code Section 6476). This is California’s broadest child sexual abuse law. It applies to any individual who molests or “annoys” a minor, if you are motivated by an unusual sexual interest in the minor. Essentially, any kind of conduct motivated by sexual interest can count, including seemingly innocent actions.
It is possible to be charged with multiple crimes, including other offenses not listed here, or multiple counts of the same offense.
If I’m convicted, will I have to register as a sex offender?
Yes. Unfortunately, all of the offenses listed above require you to register.
What are the penalties for child sexual abuse?
The penalties are different for each charge:
- Penalties for lewd acts with a minor: This is normally a felony and carries up to 8 years in prison.
- Penalties for continuous abuse of a child: This is a felony and can be sentenced with up to 16 years in a California state prison.
- Penalties for sexual battery: This can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Misdemeanor:Up to 6 months in jail (or 1 year if you used force or abused your authority over the minor).
- Felony: Up to 4 years in state prison.
- Penalties for child molestation: Up to 1 year in a county jail.
How can I defend my case?
A good defense lawyer can use a variety of defenses to fight your case. The right defense will depend on the details of what happened, but some of the strongest ones include:
- False accusation. Innocent actions can easily be misinterpreted by a parent or teacher, and children sometimes make mistakes or exaggerate when explaining things that happened. We may be able to build a case that you never abused the child at all.
- No sexual intent. In some of these offenses, intent matters. For example, exposing yourself to a minor because of a sexual interest in them counts as molestation, but exposing yourself by accident because they walked in on your changing is not illegal.
- Believed the minor was 18 or older. When the minor is a teenager, you may have a strong defense if we can show evidence that you reasonably believed they were actually a legal adult.
- Violation of rights. If authorities violated your rights in any way, including illegal search or not reading your Miranda rights, some of the evidence against you may be inadmissible.
These are not the only defenses. We start each case with a thorough investigation and use the facts to build the strongest defense possible.
Talk to a Los Angeles Child Sexual Abuse Defense Lawyer for Free
A conviction for child sexual abuse can ruin a life. But a good lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed, reduced to a less serious charge, or even win it outright. The Simmrin Law Group is here to help. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.