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Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child - California Penal Code Section 288.5

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child – PC 288.5

Continuous sexual abuse of a child charges are covered under California Penal Code Section 288.5. In order to be charged with PC 288.5, it requires 3 or more lewd acts, known as sexual touching, for a period of 3 months or longer by someone who has regular access to the child. In this context, a "child" is a minor under 14 years old. Clearly, any type of sex crime accusation against children is a very serious matter that is aggressively investigated and prosecuted by police and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office - Sex Crimes Division. Just an accusation can completely destroy your personal and professional life, even if no formal charges are filed against you. Unfortunately, false accusations of continuous sexual abuse of a child are common. Many innocent people have been wrongfully arrested and even convicted. Children can make false allegations against an adult because they don’t like their rules and want them to leave the house. In other cases, some adults with their own motives such as jealously or revenge, will encourage a child to make up a false story in order to get the other adult in legal trouble. Therefore, if you are under criminal investigation, or already arrested for continuous sexual abuse of a child, you need to immediately contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP. Remain silent. Don’t make any statements to police detectives. In basic terms, you can be charged with PC 288.5 if you have recurring access to a child and during a 3 month or longer period, you commit at least 3 acts of substantial sexual contact or lewd conduct. "Substantial sexual contact" includes oral copulation, masturbation, and penetration of the child's vagina or rectum. Lewd acts on a child includes willful touching of a child for sexual arousal, but the touching doesn’t have to be done in a lewd manner. An example of when someone could be charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child includes a situation where a new stepparent lives with a child in their home. During a period of 3 months, the stepparent inappropriately touches the child’s groin area through their clothes at least 5 times for sexual arousal. Now that we have covered a general overview of a continuous sexual abuse of a child offense, let’s take a closer look at the legal definition, penalties, and defenses below.

 

Legal Definition of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

California Penal Code Section 288.5 describes continuous sexual abuse of a minor as follows:

 

Engaging in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct or lewd or lascivious conduct with a minor under 14 years old, by someone who has either has recurring access or lives with the child in the same home, over a time period of not less than three months. 

 

It’s important to note here the exact meaning of "substantial sexual contact" in the legal definition of PC 288.5 above. It means oral copulation or masturbation of the minor or the accused, or the penetration of the minor’s or accused person’s vagina or rectum by the other person’s penis or a foreign object. Lewd or lascivious conduct is described as willful touching of the minor with the intent of sexual arousal of the accused or the child. It should be noted the touching of the minor does not have to occur on their private parts or even bare skin. It could include any touching on any part of their body or on top of the clothes they are wearing. In fact, lewd and lascivious conduct also includes causing a minor to touch their own body or another person’s body for the intent purpose of sexual gratification. Oral copulation is contact between someone’s mouth and the other person’s sexual organ or anus. Penetration is not required. See related: Forcible Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object. If you need more information, call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm.

 

Elements of the Crime

In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction for continuous sexual abuse of a minor, in violation of California Penal Code Section 288.5, they must be able to prove all the elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt. These include the following:

 

 

It’s important to make note that consent from the minor is NOT a legal defense as minor’s in California can’t legally give sexual consent.

 

What are the Legal Penalties?

If you are convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a minor, in violation of PC 288.5, you could be sentenced up to 6 to 16 years in a California state prison. You will a also be ordered to life-time registration as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290. This means you will be required to register at your local police station every year within 5 days of your birthday. You will also have restrictions on where you may live. 

 

 

Under California law, Penal Code Section 288.5 is considered a violent and serious felony offense. Therefore, a conviction could count as s strike under California’s Three Strike Law. You may also be ordered to pay a fine up to $10,000 and reimburse the Los Angeles County for court and booking fees. You could also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim if they had doctor or therapist bills that were connected to the offense. A restraining order will be issued that will require you to stay away or make contact with the victim. Additionally, when you are accused of any type of sexual contact with a minor, you can expect the Los Angeles County Child Protective Services to get involved. They may remove the child from the home during the court process. Finally, continuous sexual abuse of a child is considered a moral turpitude crime and one of violence. This means any non-citizen will likely face deportation after they serve their sentence. 

 

What are the Legal Defenses?

An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our office could use a variety of legal strategies on your behalf against charges of continuous sexual abuse of a minor. These potential legal defenses include:

 

No recurring access – As stated above, one of the elements of the crime is that the prosecutor has to prove you had recurring access to the child. In some case, our lawyers might be able to show didn’t have regular access and can’t be guilty of continuous sexual abuse.

 

Insufficient evidence – Our attorneys might be able to prove that while there was some physical contact between you and the child, it was not sexual contact. In other words, there is not sufficient evidence to prove the touching was sexually motivated. Additionally, there is not enough evidence to prove you committed three acts of sexual contact wit the child in the last 3 months. Remember, The Los Angeles County prosecutor has to prove that at least 3 of the requisite acts of molestation happened. Our lawyers may be able to cast sufficient doubt and avoid a conviction. 

 

False accusation – A stated above, it’s not uncommon for a child to be mistaken or to make false allegations. In some case, the child could have other motives to get someone in trouble, such as anger or revenge. Maybe another adult "coached" the minor to make a false accusation against you. Our attorneys might be able to prove the minor the fabricating or exaggerating the accusation of continuous sexual abuse.

 

Contact our Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers

If you have been accused of PC 288.5 continuous sexual abuse of a minor or any other type of sexual related offense against a child, you need to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP immediately. The moment you are accused, you can expect your case to be assigned to a police detective who specializes in sexual related offenses. If you are contacted by police, you need to politely decline to make any statements until you have spoken with a lawyer. Every case has unique facts and circumstances. Let our lawyers review the details to start preparing a defense. We offer a free immediate response. Contact us at 877-781-1570.

 

Related Pages: Lewd Acts with a Minor | Statutory Rape