Penal Code 288.5 PC - Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

California Penal Code 288.5 PC defines the felony crime of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14. You face up to 16 years in state prison if convicted under this statute.

Further, it will count as a strike under California's three-strikes law, and you will be required to register as a PC 290 sex offender for life.

To convict someone, the prosecutor must prove the crime's elements. These include that there were at least three or more instances of sexual abuse, the defendant lives in the same home or has recurring access to the child, and the abuse occurred over three months or longer.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child – Penal Code 288.5 PC

PC 288.5 says, “(a) Anyone who either resides in the same home with the minor child or has recurring access to them, who over a period of time, not less than three months in duration, engages in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14 years at the time of the commission of the offense, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1203.066, or three or more acts of lewd or lascivious conduct, as defined in Section 288, with a child under the age of 14 years at the time of the commission of the offense is guilty of the offense of continuous sexual abuse of a child and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 6, 12, or 16 years.”

In the context of this law, sexual conduct means oral copulation or masturbation of either the child or the defendant or penetration of the child's or defendant's vagina or rectum. The penetration can occur by the other person's penis or foreign object.

Oral copulation is any contact between one person's mouth and the sexual organ or anus of another. Penetration is not required for oral copulation to occur.

Lewd acts on a child include willful touching of a child for sexual arousal, but the touching doesn't have to be done offensively. Our California criminal defense lawyers will review this law in more detail below.

Defending PC 288.5 in the CCB Court

What are the best practices for handling a California Penal Code 288.5 PC continuous sexual abuse of someone under 14 at the CCB courthouse?

The Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center at 210 West Temple in downtown Los Angeles courthouse probably handles the most PC 288.5 cases in LA county, and that is because they have most of the sex crime prosecutors there.

Defending Sex Crimes in Los Angeles Courts

The main head prosecutor that handles the sex crime cases office is across the street at the Hall of Justice.  They're mostly filed there, and these cases are severe because you can end up facing life in prison depending on the victim's age, your prior criminal record, and what exactly you did in the case.

If you or a loved one is charged with PC 288.5 – continuous sexual conduct with an individual under 14, pick up the phone now.  Set up a meeting with me.  I've been handling these cases now for 30 years.  They are taken very seriously, and the prosecutors often try to get a life or sentence someone north of 20 years. 

So, what I have you do is come in.  If it's your loved one, many times the bail is over a million dollars, so your loved one can't bail out; we can sit down and talk and go over the case. 

I worked for the district attorney's office in East Los Angeles in 1992, and then I also worked for a superior court judge. Finally, in the early 1990s, I became a criminal defense attorney, defending people like you and your loved one in these severe cases. Let's review this state law further below.

What Are the Related Crimes for PC 288.5?

In California, several statutes are related to child molestation and PC 288.5 sexual abuse of a minor, including:

  • Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor,
  • Penal Code 288(b)(1) PC – lewd acts by force,
  • Penal Code 288(i) PC – lewd acts causing bodily harm,
  • Penal Code 288.7 PC – lewd acts with a child under 10,
  • Penal Code 287 PC – oral copulation with a minor,
  • Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape,
  • Penal Code 647.6 PC - child molestation,
  • Penal Code 269 PC – aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Fighting or Negotiating the PC 288.5 Case

So, we must first determine whether or not the prosecutors have the proof of the case – whether they can prove it. 

If they can, then we probably want to take a strategy of trying to negotiate, work out a deal and put together a mitigation package and do what's called a Penal Code 288.1 report which has to do with evaluating your loved one to see whether or not they are a pedophile, to see if they are going to be a recidivist.

We will also do a standardized test called a static 99 report to see whether or not they score high, moderate, or low for committing this type of offense in the future.

Defenses for PC 288.5 Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

Also, a big thing in these cases is that the prosecutors will be looking at whether or not your loved one has ever done something like this before and what the surrounding circumstances are of the current case. 

To be charged with this 288.5, the person has to be having some sexual relationship with a minor under 14, and it has to happen more than one time.  It will have to happen multiple times to get that continuous sexual abuse of a minor.  So, they will have to have evidence through DNA or some admission.

The child can testify against the person – maybe a relative walk in and catches the individual in the act, and that's the main witness. Maybe the child goes to the school and reports that they're being sexually abused. 

That happens often, and the school must report that to the authorities.  The authorities interview the child and will try to interview you or your loved one, depending on who's involved with the case. Some of the common legal defenses include making an argument that the contact was not sexual in nature. Perhaps the allegations are false.

Perhaps we can negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or drop the case. Maybe we can persuade them not to file formal criminal charges in the first place through prefiling negotiations (DA reject)

So, if you need the best, let my 30 years of experience work for you.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case evaluation via phone or contact form.