Penal Code 269 PC - Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
The crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child is one of the most serious and severely punished offenses in California law. This statute is embodied in California Penal Code 269 PC.
Aggravated sexual assault of a child is described as committing a sexual act upon a child under 14 when the child is at least seven years younger than the perpetrator.
PC 269 says, “(a) Any person who commits any of the following acts upon a child who is under 14 years of age and seven or more years younger than the person is guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child:
(1) Rape, in violation of paragraph (2) or (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 261.
(2) Rape or sexual penetration, in concert, in violation of Section 264.1.
(3) Sodomy, in violation of paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (c) or subdivision (d) of Section 286.
(4) Oral copulation, in violation of paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (c), or subdivision (d), of Section 287 or former Section 288a.
(5) Sexual penetration, in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 289.
(b) Any person who violates this section is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for 15 years to life in the state prison.
(c) The court shall impose a consecutive sentence for each offense that results in a conviction under this section if the crimes involve separate victims or involve the same victim on separate occasions as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 667.6.”
If you are accused of this crime, having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to mounting a solid defense. If you are convicted of this crime, you face a minimum of 15 years in prison (up to life imprisonment) and must have your name on the sex offender registry for life.
What Constitutes Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child?
Under PC 269, aggravated sexual assault of a child is clearly defined as committing certain sex crimes against a victim under 14, where the accused is also at least seven years older than the victim. The specific sex crimes qualifying as aggravated sexual assault listed in this section include:
- Penal Code 261 PC - Rape;
- Penal Code 264.1 PC - Rape or sexual penetration in concert (gang rape);
- Penal Code 286 PC - Sodomy;
- Penal Code 287 PC - Forcible oral copulation;
Although PC 269 is charged as a crime in its own right, it is effectively an enhancement law, which means it provides for increased penalties over and above those for the underlying offense.
In other words, when any of the above crimes are committed against a minor under age 14 where there is a 7-year or more difference in age between the accused and the victim, the charge escalates from the individual crime to aggravated sexual assault of a minor, which carries a much more severe penalty.
Other things to know about this law:
- Aggravated sexual assault against a child is a "tier 3" sex registration offense, meaning if convicted, you must register as a sex offender for life.
- For purposes of this law, sentences must be served consecutively for multiple convictions. In other words, if you're convicted of more than one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, either a different victim or the same victim at a different time, you can't serve both sentences simultaneously. You'll do at least 15 years for each offense, one after the other.
What Are the Elements of the Crime?
To secure a conviction under Penal Code 269, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You engaged in one of the criminal acts listed above;
- The minor was under 14 years of age at the time of the act; and
- You were at least seven years older than the minor at the time of the offense.
What Are Some Examples?
EXAMPLE 1: Darren, who is 22 years old, coerces Jane (age 13) to give him oral sex under the threat of harming her family. Because John is more than seven years older than Jane, he can be charged and prosecuted under PC 269 for aggravated sexual assault of a child versus simple oral copulation.
EXAMPLE 2: Alex, who is 20 years old, is dating Kelly, who is 14 years old. They engage in consensual sexual activity. Alex would not be prosecuted under PC 269 because Kelly is 14, the age difference is less than six years, and the sexual activity was consensual. However, Alex could still be charged with statutory rape (PC 261.5).
EXAMPLE 3: Jason, 16 years old, convinces Anna (12) to engage in sexual intercourse by suggesting he will hurt her if she doesn't. Jason won't be charged with aggravated sexual assault under PC 269 because he is only four years older than the victim. However, he can still be charged with forcible sexual penetration (PC 289).
What Are the Related Crimes?
Several California laws are related to Penal Code 269 aggravated sexual assault of a child, including the following:
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor;
- Penal Code 288.2 PC – send harmful matter to a minor;
- Penal Code 288.3 PC – contact a minor to commit a felony;
- Penal Code 288.4 PC – arrange a meeting with a minor;
- Penal Code 288.5 PC – continuous sexual abuse of a child;
- Penal Code 288.7 PC – sex with a child under 10;
- Penal Code 647.6 PC – annoying or molesting a child;
- Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape.
What Are the Penalties for PC 269?
Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a very serious felony offense with severe penalties. If you're convicted under PC 269, you face a minimum prison sentence of 15 years to life unless the judge awards formal probation instead of prison time.
In addition, and regardless of the length of your sentence, a conviction under PC 269 will require you to register as a sex offender for life—meaning you must re-register with local authorities every year within five days of your birthday and within five days of moving residences, for the rest of your life.
What Are the Defenses for PC 269?
Despite the seriousness of a charge under PC 269, an experienced California criminal defense attorney can still implement one of several defense strategies to combat the charges, as discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue that sexual activity was not forced. In other words, the minor victim freely consented to the sexual act. If effective, this defense could reduce the charge to statutory rape.
Perhaps we can argue that the victim was over the age of 14. Even if the alleged victim turned 14 on the day of the incident, the crime would be reduced from aggravated sexual assault to the specific sex crime committed (e.g., oral copulation, rape).
Perhaps we can argue that the age difference was less than seven years. The same logic applies to the defense above. Maybe we can negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges, case dismissal, or persuade them not to file formal criminal charges prefiling (DA reject).
Contact us to review the case details and legal options. Eisner Gorin LLP has offices in Los Angeles, CA.