Statute of Limitations for an Orange County Child Molestation Charge (Penal Code Sections 288 and 801.1)
Have you been accused of Orange County child molestation pursuant to Penal Code Section 288? If so, the consequences of a conviction are extremely serious. Child molestation under this code can be prosecuted as a felony “strike” under California’s Three Strike’s Law. Not only do you face up to 10 years in prison if you are ineligible for probation, you will also have to serve a minimum of 85% of your prison sentence before you can be paroled. You will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life once you are released.
However, California statute of limitations laws preclude you from being prosecuted for this crime after a certain length of time has passed. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want you to be aware of the time limits in place that could prevent you from being prosecuted for child molestation and the reasons that statute of limitations laws exist.
Orange County Child Molestation under Penal Code Section 288
Lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child under the age of 14 is always a felony in California.
If the victim was under 14 years old, you can be prosecuted for child molestation under Penal Code Section 288(a), or aggravated child molestation under Penal Code Section 288 (b) if you used force or threatened to harm the victim or another person.
If you engage in lewd conduct involving a minor who was 14 or 15 years old and you were at least 10 years older than the victim at the time of the offense, you face either a misdemeanor or a felony violation of Penal Code Section 288(c).
Statute of Limitations for Orange County Child Molestation under Penal Code Section 801.1
A misdemeanor violation of Penal Code Section 288(c) must be prosecuted within one year from the date of the offense.
Pursuant to Penal Code Section 801.1, prosecution for any felony violation of California child molestation laws may commence any time prior to the alleged victim’s 28th birthday or within 10 years of commission of the alleged offense, whichever is later.
Exceptions to Section 801.1 limitations may apply. Pursuant to Penal Code Section 803(f), a person of any age may file a report with a California law enforcement agency alleging he or she was a victim of child molestation when he or she was a minor provided that:
- All other available statutes of limitation have expired;
- The crime involved “substantial sexual conduct” as defined in Penal Code Section 1203.066, other than non-mutual masturbation; and
- There is independent evidence that corroborates the allegation. This evidence must be “clear and convincing” if the reporting person is 21 years of age or older.
In these cases, a criminal complaint must be filed within one year of the date of the report.
Additionally, what is known as the “DNA exception rule” allows for prosecution of child molestation within one year of the date on which the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by DNA testing (Penal Code Section 803(g).)
What is the Purpose of a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations serves to protect a defendant’s constitutional rights during an on-going criminal investigation. Often, witnesses’ memories fade and evidence deteriorates, making it difficult, if not impossible to prosecute someone for a crime.
If you are openly available to arrest during an investigation – meaning you haven’t left the state or are not otherwise hiding from law enforcement, you cannot be prosecuted for child molestation once all statutes of limitation have expired.
What if You are the Child’s Family Member?
Child molestation is less frequently a case of “stranger danger” – meaning that the child and the offender were unknown to each other. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported that around 93% of all reported cases of child sexual assault involves a person with whom the child is already acquainted. Family members represent 34.2% of all child molestation offenders. This figure rises considerably when the child involved was under 12 years old.
If you are the alleged victim’s family member, you may qualify for probation rather than being sent to prison upon a conviction for child molestation. Whether you are eligible for probation will depend on:
- The circumstances of the charge(s) against you;
- The age of your alleged victim;
- Your relationship to the child; and
- Your criminal history.
What Should You Do if you Are Being Accused of Orange County Child Molestation?
If you or someone you love has been charged with child molestation under Penal Code Section 288, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich right away. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing child molestation charges.
Our attorneys understand the pressure you face. Often, a person may be charged with child molestation where the allegations are unsubstantiated or false. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will examine all of the evidence against you to determine whether the crime can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, we will argue that the charges against you must be reduced or dismissed.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will fight to get you the best result possible in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.