Sex Crimes charge with Possible Life Sentences
Due to the Sex Crimes with Possible Life Sentences subject, in California, it is quite commonly understood that a criminal gets three strikes before being sentenced to life, in most instances. This Three Strikes Law means one who commits three violent, or otherwise serious, felonies can be sentenced to life in prison. However, what is more uncommon, is the law described in Penal Code 667.61, which indicates an individual can be sentenced to life in prison on a first offense if the crime committed is of a specific nature.
The statute of limitations does not apply to these types of crimes, either, so you a perpetrator is “on the hook” forever for his or her actions. In addition, one can be convicted of multiple life sentences; one for each offense committed that qualifies under the One Strike Law.
The law was developed to deter criminals from committing a certain group of crimes it considered highly dangerous, serious crimes. The One Strike Law deals with not just the actual crimes listed in the statute, but also with a set of circumstances laid out in the wording of the law.
The List of Sex Crimes with Possible Life Sentences
Penal Code 667.61 details the sex crimes that fall under this umbrella. They are as follows:
- Rape under penal code 261;
- Spousal rape under 262(a);
- Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration, in concert under 264.1;
- Lewd or lascivious acts under 288(b);
- Sexual penetration under 289(a);
- Sodomy under 286(c) and (d);
- Lewd or lascivious acts under 288(a);
- Continuous sexual abuse under 288.5;
- Previous convictions for sexual offenses within 667.61(c);
- Kidnapping the victim and moving him/her, substantially increasing the risk of harm above that which is inherent in the offense committed;
- Aggravated mayhem or torture while committing the sexual offense;
- Committing a sex crime during the course of committing a burglary; and
- Inflicting great bodily injury on the victim or someone else while committing the sexual offense.
However, despite this extensive list, there are other ways to violate the One Strike Law and receive a life sentence on your first conviction. For example, if you:
- Used a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm to commit the crime;
- You have been convicted of one of these crimes against more than one victim;
- You tied or bound the victim or another while committing the offense; or
- You administered a controlled substance while committing the offense.
Sentence enhancements are a major part of the story with sex crimes, as well. It is not just that these crimes can land you in prison for 15 years to life, but judges have authority to tack on enhancements for a various other circumstances.
If you commit the crime through intimidation, meaning using force or fear to accomplish the commission of the offense, the sentence can be increased to 25 years in prison to life. This is a major enhancement, given that your minimum time in jail has increased by 10 years.
Defending Against Sex Crime Charges that Carry a Life Sentence
It is vital to hire an attorney whenever you are arrested, charged with a crime, or haled into court. However, it is of even more importance when the nature of the charges could result in you being forced to spend the rest of your life in prison for a conviction.
Sex crimes are considered very serious crimes, and in California they are prosecuted very aggressively and vigorously. The problem with the over-eagerness in earning convictions for these types of crimes is that there is a higher propensity to put innocent people in front of a jury with the possibility that they lose a trial for a crime they did not commit. Given the serious nature of these types of allegations, a false accusation can cause insurmountable damage to one’s reputation and ability to live a normal life past the resolution of the case. Individuals may be seen as a pariah, lose their jobs, or have difficulty securing employment after being accused of committing a sex crime.
A defense attorney can attack a false accusation in many ways. First and foremost, your attorney will do all that is possible to show the witnesses have given testimony that is simply not credible. This may mean they misidentified you, were unable to describe their perpetrator, or have misstated basic facts of the case. If a jury does not believe the witness, your attorney may be able to show you were falsely accused of the crime.
The next strategy for an attorney in a case like this is to show the judge and jury that the evidence the prosecution has presented is simply too weak to establish all the elements of the crime. In order to be convicted under 667.61, the prosecutor must convince the jury beyond a shadow of a doubt that you committed every single element of the offense. Any reasonable doubt created by your attorney will result in your acquittal.
Finally, your attorney may be able to show that, although the crime was actually committed, and you were the one that committed the crime, there were extraneous circumstances that gave you and excuse for your actions. One such excuse could be that you acted under duress. Criminal law allows some crimes to be considered justified if the perpetrator felt like he or she had to commit the crime to avoid immediate death or serious bodily injury as a result of a threat by another person. So long as this fear is reasonable, and the offense committed did not result in the death of another person, your attorney may be able to argue you only committed the offense because you were acting under duress.
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Did the police arrest you for a sex-related crime in the greater Los Angeles area? We cannot stress enough the importance of consulting and retaining a lawyer to protect your rights, privacy and future.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.