Every time you commit a crime or unlawful act, you are looking at misdemeanors or felonies. However, as a rule of thumb, whenever you commit a crime or unlawful act with or in the presence of a child, you are more likely to be charged with a felony if convicted. Whenever a person commits a sexual act towards a child, it may be charged as a felony. Of course, every case has their own set of factors that affect judgment. Your case is affected by the location where the act took place, the age of the child, the intent of the defendant, and whether the act resulted in physical or mental trauma. If you are charged with sexual assault, sexual battery, or for engaging in a lewd act with a minor, you may face prison time that can range from three years to life in prison. Being charged with a crime against a minor can lead to terrible consequences if you are convicted. On top of spending time in jail and having to pay for fines, the violator will be required to register as a sex offender.  

In most cases, sex offenders that have violated a child's trust and rights may be required to register a lifetime as a sex offender. The California Department of Justice (DOJ), explains that everyone who is charged with a sex crime is required to register with the California Sex Offender Registry.  Even if the act resulted in a misdemeanor conviction, you may be required to register for a lifetime based on the sex crime. When you register in a public registration, your information will become public knowledge. Information that is in the public registry may be accessed by your employer, your housing agency, and by your neighbors.

Living with a red dot next to your name will complicate your financial, public, and private life. First and foremost, your financial life will be impacted. Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), felons and sex offenders are not protected from discrimination. An employer under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the legal obligation to keep a safe working environment. This means that an employer cannot negligently hire a person who may pose a threat to others or to the safety of the working environment. Furthermore, you can expect a red dot to affect your public life. A sex offender is required to live by certain living restrictions that restrict the areas where they may live. According to Jessica's Law, a sex offender cannot live near areas where children congregate. In fact, may have found that the only living options they have left are in the city outskirts or on the streets. Finally, a red dot next to your name affects your private life. Anyone and I mean anyone can look up your information on a public registry. This means that the lady friend or boyfriend you made over the weekend, may look up your name and find it in a public registry. Not only will your significant other know about your situation, you may find your teachers, and neighbors and other individuals treating you differently based on the information on the registry.

Child sexual abuse is when an adult forces himself upon a child to satisfy a sexual pleasure. Sexual abuse of a minor is a crime that can come in many shapes and forms. In a courtroom, if you have child pornography or any footage of your sex crime, you may be charged with additional penalties aside from those for engaging in sexual behaviors with a child. If the person is not at least 18 years or older, they do not have the ability to give consent. In California, consent is a big deal, meaning that if you do not have prior consent before engaging in sexual activity, you may face fines, jail time, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. If you are charged with a child sex crime, it may be in your best interest to discuss the case with an attorney. 

To be successfully convicted of child sexual abuse the case must contain the following:

  • The victim was under the age of consent (age 18)
  • The actions could result in the mental or physical harm
  • The act was committed by an adult

When the child protective services are given notice of child sexual abuse, they will conduct an investigation to prove the factors above. A person cannot be charged with sexual abuse if they accidentally touch a student. For example, if a P.E teacher is playing basketball with a student and accidentally touches the student's leg while attempting to swipe the ball away, the teacher cannot be charged with a child sex crime. In this case, the teacher was not acting with the intent to cause harm or advance with a sexual request. However, if the teacher continually touches students while playing sports with them, then it may be reason enough to raise charges. Teachers and other adults that work with children are known as ‘mandated reporters’. Mandated reporters are required to report any suspicion of child abuse. If they are caught committing a sex act with a child, mandated reporters may face additional penalties and fines.

If you are in the state of California and you are facing charges for child sexual abuse, you may want to speak with an attorney about your case. You have reason to contest if you have been wrongly accused or if you believe that your actions have been misinterpreted. In addition, if you are falsely accused, for instance, if you are mistaken for someone else, it is crucial to show up to court and provide proof of your innocence. On the other hand, if you are guilty, you may face harsh prison times and fines. You may also be required to register as a sex offender and live in the outskirts of the city far away from children. To speak with an attorney about your case, you may contact the Orange County Criminal Attorney at 714-831-1858. We are ready to listen and provide consultation to your case.

Types of Sexual Crimes towards a Child

The following section will cover a variety of laws that address child sexual abuse. To learn more about the laws that apply to your case, you may want to speak with a criminal law attorney.

Lewd Acts Penal Code 647

A lewd act is any sexual act that causes discomfort or offense. A lewd act under Penal Code 647 can be seen as any of the following:

  • Soliciting for sex: it is illegal to ask someone for sex in exchange for material goods including money or other material of value. Soliciting for sex is often associated with prostitution and usually charged with a misdemeanor. However, when soliciting sex with a minor, the crime may be charged with a felony.
  • Flashing: it is a lewd act to flash your genitals including your scrotum, breasts, or other ‘private’ part with the intent to cause an annoyance or to fulfill a sexual pleasure.
  • Masturbating in public
  • Loitering: an individual is loitering if they are hanging out in one place with the purpose of observing, stalking, or waiting for a moment to fulfill a crime.
  • Begging: it is a lewd act to obstruct a walkway while begging or asking for some form of alms
  • Public intoxication: under PC 647 (f) it is a crime to be drinking liquor or doing any other drug while in public
  • Peeping Tom: it is also a lewd act to observe someone through an opening such as a window or a hole. It includes looking at someone in the bedroom, bathroom or changing room.
  • Entering or ‘lodging’ into a building without permission. If you are not allowed to be in a certain place you may be charged with a lewd act if you enter a private or public building without permission.
  • Up skirting: using a recording camcorder or phone to take pictures of a person's body without their consent is a lewd act. It may be punished with additional penalties if the person acts with intent to distribute or sell the image or recording

Any of the acts mentioned above may be charged under penal code 647. As you have seen, a lewd act is so much more than a sexual act. A lewd act must cause some type of discomfort in order to be considered a lewd act. In fact, the act of having sex or any other sexual activity in public is not against the law - it is against the law to perform such acts when you know someone will watch and it will cause an annoyance to someone else. If any of these acts include a child, you can expect the misdemeanor to be charged as a felony which holds longer prison terms and fines.

Lewd Acts Penalties

The penalties for lewd acts will highly dependent on the nature of the crime and the perpetrator's history. In most cases, a first-time offense is treated with probation in which the perpetrator is obligated to pay fines, attend counseling, or stay away from a certain place (parks, schools, and other recreational areas). However, if the act was crude enough, it may be charged with a fine of up to $1000 and/or jail time for up to six months. A charge under PC 647 is a misdemeanor that does not require the aggressor to register as a sex offender. Nonetheless, when a lewd act is sexual in nature and directed towards a person under the age of 18, the penalties may be charged through a felony as you will see in the following section. 

Lewd Act with a Child

When someone commits a lewd act towards a child, the individual may face prison time. Any lewd act that is conducted around a child or with a child will usually hold more serious consequences than those outlined for a simple lewd act.

A lewd act with a child can include:

  • Soliciting for sexual pleasures
  • Messaging and exchanging images with a person under the age of 18
  • Touching the child for sexual arousal
  • Being touched by a child for sexual arousal

When being charged with a lewd act, the age of the child and perpetrator will greatly affect the outcome of the jurisdiction. Penal Code 288 explains that if a person engages in a lewd act with a child, or has molested a child under the age of 14, he or she may face prison time ranging from 3 to 8 years. Furthermore, if the individual has used force or violent means to influence the child, the individual may be charged with five to ten years in prison. In addition, you may be charged with more fines and prison time if you are a caretaker or someone taking care of children.

Sexual Intercourse with a Minor

When a person engages in sexual intercourse with a minor (anyone under the age of 18) may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. Under statutory rape laws Penal Code 261.5, assuming that there is no coercion involved, if the minor is less than two years younger than the other, the adult may be charged with a fine ranging between $2000 to $5000 dollars. If the individual is three years younger than the adult, the adult may be charged with up to $10,000. Furthermore, if the adult is the age of 21 and the minor is below the age of 16, then he or she may face a fine of up to $25,000. Jail times for a simple offense without violence or coercion can be charged with up to four years in jail.

If a person is under the age of 18, it is best to look the other way and mind your own business. Engaging or soliciting sexual pleasures is a crime that can be charged with jail time and fines. What's worse is that if you are charged with a child sexual abuse crime, you can expect to be required to register with a local sex offender registry. To learn more you may contact the Orange County Criminal Lawyer at 714-831-1858.