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Understanding Child Molestation Charges

The crime “child molestation” is often thought of as the worst crime a person can commit. Many people who commit crimes like DUI, burglary, and even murder are viewed as redeemable by society – that grace is not often extended to people accused of child molestation.  

“Child molestation” is actually not a crime itself – it refers to a group of sexual offenses committed against children. It is a broad category and includes a variety of specific crimes. This is significant, because each of these offenses carry with them specific elements of the crime that must be met. Importantly, a child’s age can make a significant difference. Here are some “child molestation” offenses a person might be charged with: 

Penal Code section 288a(b)(2) – Oral Copulation with minor under 16 
Penal Code section 261.5 – Statutory rape 
Penal Code section 288 – Lewd acts with a minor 
Penal Code section 288.3 – Contact a minor to commit a felony 

Each “child molestation” offense also carries with it specific consequences that will vary based on the criminal act. For instance, some “child molestation” offenses carry life sex registration and others carry a 10 year sex registration requirement. Also, some offenses allow for a defendant to be placed on probation; however, for some offenses, a conviction will require a prison sentence. It is of note that acts of “child molestation” may have certain aggravating factors that could significantly lengthen a person’s time in custody, sometimes even turning it into a life prison sentence.  

It is important to consider other potentially applicable offenses because they could significantly lessen a person’s obligation to register as a sex offender. A slight change in the code section violation could mean the difference between life sex offender registration and no sex registration whatsoever. It is even possible, with some “child molestation” offenses, to petition the court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor down the road. It could also mean the difference between being on probation and house arrest and being sent to prison for years, if not decades. 

For example, should you be charged with one of the crimes of “child molestation,” there are other comparable offenses you and your attorney should be discussing. For example, if you are charged with Oral Copulation of a Minor (Penal Code section 288a), Statutory Rape (Penal Code section 261.5(d)) may be an advantageous plea to avoid sex offender registration requirements.    

Similarly, a change to the specific code section with which you are charged could mean the difference between prison and probation. For example, if you are charged with Penal Code section 288(b) – Lewd Acts with a Minor by Force or Fear, you may be looking at prison without the possibility of probation. A violation of Penal Code section 288(a) – Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor Under 14, although a similar charge, may offer a person the opportunity to do his or her sentence on probation and in county jail and/or alternative sentencing.  

“Child molestation” charges are serious and they require serious negotiation skills to get the best outcome possible. Contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our lawyers can help you understand your legal options and fight the charges against you. Call now to get started.  

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