CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGES & LEGAL DEFENSE

CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER IN SACRAMENTO

CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGES & LEGAL DEFENSE

IN 2011, 9.7% OF REPORTED CASES OF CHILD ABUSE INVOLVED SEXUAL ABUSE

Since 2011, California has been implementing a realignment policy following a ruling by the United States Supreme Court mandating lower crowding in prisons. Since then, there has been a 15% increase in parolees required to register as sex offenders violating the terms of their release. Sacramento has an especially high percentage of sex offender parole violations as compared to the rest of California.

PENALTIES FOR A SEX OFFENSE CONVICTION ARE SEVERE

As experienced Sacramento criminal defense lawyers, we possess a thorough understanding of how child molestation charges are structured from investigation through trial and appeal. In California, the penalties for a sex offense conviction are severe, and can be even more substantial than the penalties for murder, including a lifetime registered as a sex offender. Because the list of registered sex offenders is so readily accessible, registration can affect whether someone who is convicted can find a job or a place to live.

The mere accusation of child molestation can ruin your reputation and relationships with your family, coworkers, employer, and friends. Therefore, if you are being investigated or facing charges of child molestation in Sacramento, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Below is information that may help you understand how this offense is defined in California, and how the related criminal process works from beginning to end.

HOW CHILD MOLESTATION IS DEFINED IN CALIFORNIA

Pursuant to California Penal Code section 288, the offense of child molestation has a broad definition. To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove that (1) you willfully touched a child somewhere on his or her body or else caused him to touch himself, herself or you, and (2) you did this for sexual purposes. Although child molestation cases often include accusations that a child was touched or fondled on a sexual organ, you can also be charged if the touching occurred over a child’s clothing, and even if the area was not a sex organ, if sexual arousal was the purpose of the touching.

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WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE ACCUSES YOU OF CHILD MOLESTATION?

An individual may contact the Sheriff’s Department or Sacramento Police Department to accuse you. The accuser is often an authority figure in the child’s life such as a relative, parent, or mandated child abuse reporter like a teacher. In some cases a child contacts the police directly, or sometimes a teenager or adult contacts the police after many years have passed since the alleged molestation, stating that he or she didn’t understand the nature of the contact at the time.

The police (and sometimes specially-trained child psychologists or detectives) conduct an interview with the child to determine what the facts are. The interview may be recorded by audio or video, and leading questions may be asked that suggest a false recounting of events to the child.

If the abuse is alleged to be recent, the police or Sheriff’s Department may order a medical and/or forensic examination of the child, his or her clothes, and the location of the alleged molestation. These examinations are designed to find evidence for trial purposes, such as microscopic tearing where the abuse was alleged to have occurred. The police may also ask the person who is doing the accusing to make a “pretext call” to you. This means they will guide the alleged victim to say things that may prompt you to confess or make an admission that can later be used against you. Other possible victims will likely be searched out as well.

You may be brought in for questioning at this point. If you are not arrested, Miranda rights need not be read to you. However, it is much better to contact a criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in this area of the law to be present during such an interview than to talk to the police without one in order to get the interrogation over with, or to convince authorities that the child’s accusations are false and that you are innocent. You should not submit to a polygraph test without consulting an attorney, as the results can be used to develop a case against you.

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PENALTIES & POTENTIAL DEFENSES

There are many possible defenses to a child molestation charge. Your criminal defense attorney can make an assessment as to the best defense after learning the specific facts of your situation. Among these is attacking the child’s credibility, and subpoenaing his or her counseling, medical, or school records, as well as his or her social network and email accounts. It may mean interviewing the people he or she talks to, including family, relatives, friends, and caretakers in order to determine if the child has a grudge or motive to harm you, or else has a history of telling lies. Sometimes children have been convinced to lie about you by an older figure who has a motive to hurt you. This can be determined through an investigation by your attorney.

Other potential defenses are that the touching was accidental or that no arousal was intended. For example, if you were required to touch the child in order to assess an injury or clean something off, there was no molestation under the law.

Penalties

If you are convicted at trial, the penalties that may be imposed include up to 8 years of incarceration, a strike under California’s Three Strikes law, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. If a jury concludes that you used force, or makes certain other findings, you will face up to 10 years of prison time. These penalties are quite harsh and your best interests are served by contacting an experienced private criminal defense attorney as soon as you discover you are being investigated. This may be as early as the point at which you receive a pretext call or as late as after an arrest.

Sacramento criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Alin Cintean can defend you and work to restore your standing in the community. Whether the case involves a lack of intention, accidental conduct, or coaching by a third party, many child molestation charges are dismissed. We want to understand your side of the story and help you get on with your life. For a confidential consultation, call our Sacramento office at (916) 441-3500.