Sex Crimes, Human Trafficking, And Kidnapping

The most egregious sex crimes usually involve kidnapping and/or false imprisonment, which greatly increase any potential prison sentence and other penalties. Also, if a sexual assault is committed by a member in a group of defendants charged in a home invasion conspiracy, all other group members can be convicted of rape, whether they knew about it, participated in it or had any intent to do so, under a theory that rape during home invasion (and other robbery and burglary offenses) are the “natural and probable consequence” or routinely occur during such crimes. This is grossly unfair and has resulted in extremely long prison sentences more often affecting young minority males. The law should be changed for the same reasons that the felony murder law was recently changed so that group members with no intent or act in furtherance of a killing by another group member during the commission of a felony cannot be charged with felony murder.

There are many sex crimes in California ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, most with sex offender registration requirements (PC 290). Due to recent changes in the law, most sex crimes do not require life long registration. There are 3 tiers which provide different time durations of registration depending on the seriousness of the conviction, after which a convicted sex offender can now petition to end their registration requirement and then work to be removed from the public Megan’s Law website. Also, while the statute of limitations (PC 799) (the legal time limit for the prosecution to file charges) for most misdemeanors is 1 year, and for most felonies is 3 years, felony sex offenses involving minors under 18 years of age can be legally filed at any time before the victim’s 40th birthday. With this much delay, these cases are often very difficult, but not impossible, to defend.

Sex offenses include prostitution offenses, which are covered under a separate heading on my website, including solicitation, pandering or pimping. Recently, there have been many “over charged” human trafficking cases (PC 236.1), which are straight felonies, and can result in lengthy prison sentences ranging from 5-8-12 years. Many trafficking cases should really be prosecuted as prostitution charges because we often find out doing independent defense investigation that the alleged victim(s) have long rap sheets with multiple prior prostitution and fraud and theft convictions. Also, there is a lot of other evidence like surveillance video, social media and phone records that prove no one was forcing these victim(s) to engage in sex crimes; they were doing this on their own volition and had been doing it for awhile.

Sex offenses include many types of offenses, such as child pornography (possession, production and distribution can all be separately charged and prosecuted); indecent exposure; rape, forced oral copulation and/or sodomy (victims can be spouses, dating partners, strangers and minors) ; sexual assault (no penetration, but a touching of an intimate body part for arousal and gratification purposes); and statutory sexual offenses involving minor (under 18 years of age) victims.

Many times during or prior to sex offenses, the victim is taken against their will or prevented from moving. These offenses involve kidnapping (PC 207) and false imprisonment (PC 236). Simple kidnapping, a misdemeanor, is rarely charged. When there is force or fear (a

threat of the imminent use of force) who takes the victim and moves them to any other area (regardless the distance), felony kidnapping is involved and it is a strike. Aggravated kidnapping (PC 209) is a more serious charge and carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment. Aggravating factors include a minor victim under 14 years old, a ransom demand, causing serious bodily injury or death, binding the victim, kidnapping in conjunction with a carjacking, and many other crimes, such as sexual assault. False imprisonment involves detaining, restraining or confining another person without their consent. This can be accomplished with or without violence, and depending on the egregiousness of the wrongful conduct and the age and status of the victim (minor/incapacitated) can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Adding kidnapping and false imprisonment charges to sex offense charges can result in extreme sentences and multiple strikes if not properly defended.

Defenses against sex offenses are complex and essential because the penalties and stigma attached to sex offenses are substantial. Declaring and usually having to prove your innocence (although the Constitution mandates the defendant be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) is complex and important. Defendants have the burden of proof as regards many legal defenses however. Often scientific evidence, or the lack of it, like DNA, hair and fibers on the victim and at the crime scene location are dispositive. Social media and cell phone records and logistics, inconsistent statements by the victim, false allegations and motivation to harm the defendant. Also, an expert’s interpretation of the sexual assault examination findings performed on the victim in most cases often reveals defenses and discrepancies. Reasonably believing the victim consented to engage in the charged sexual activity can be difficult to establish. Minors and incapacitated victims (either due to being under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both, or having an intellectual deficiency or physical or mental incapacity) cannot legally consent. There may be appropriate defense motions to suppress evidence or confessions which weaken the prosecution’s case and make it easier to settle. I have had quite a few sex offense cases dismissed, not filed (if I get involved while law enforcement is still investigating the case) or reduced to much more reasonable and less extreme offers.

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