September 13, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Recently, Governor Brown signed a bill into law that provides trial assistance to children and other vulnerable victims of sex crimes. Supporters of the law believe strengthening protections for victims will also increase convictions for those accused of sex crimes
New California Sex Crimes Law Explained
Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) introduced Senate Bill 1091
, which passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in both houses. It expands current law that allows certain victims in the state, including those of homicide, elder or dependent abuse and rape, to have up to two support witnesses with them in the courtroom. The law now includes victims of child pornography, pimping, pandering and sex trafficking.
Victims of these crimes are now allowed to have one support witness appear with them on the witness stand and the other witness to be present in the courtroom. The second witness's testimony is also admissible in court and is taken before court proceedings begin.
Implications of the New Law for Defendants
The bill's author believes that the new law will affect over 200 cases in Los Angeles County alone when it takes effect on January 1, 2013, including 126 child pornography cases, 97 prostitution cases and three human trafficking cases. This means defendants in these and other sex crimes cases will face not only their accuser, but two supporting witnesses the victim chooses. Defendants, on the other hand, are not granted such support.
Penalties for Sex Crimes Now Covered by the New Law
The new law grants more support to victims of Internet sex crimes
and other sexual offenses in section 266 of the California Penal Code, including pimping, pandering and sex trafficking. Section 266 outlines the penalties those accused are likely to face if convicted.
Under section 266c, those convicted of coercing another person to engage in various sex acts through fear tactics may face up to a year in county jail or two to three years in state prison. The law defines "fear" as fear of death or physical injury to the victim or the victim's family.
Section 266i defines pandering and outlines penalties for those convicted of pandering. Pandering occurs when one person tries to persuade another into prostitution through promises, threats, violence or other methods. Those convicted of pandering face felony charges. If the victim of pandering is a minor under the age of 16, a convicted individual may face up to eight years in state prison.
The sex trafficking of minors under 16 is also a felony, as outlined in section 266j. If convicted, those accused of giving, transporting or otherwise making available children under 16 for sex face up to eight years in state prison and fines up to $15,000.
California's penalties for sex crimes are tough and the new law may make it more difficult for those accused of sex crimes to avoid conviction. If you have been accused of a sex crime involving a minor, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore your options and better ensure that your rights remain protected.
Article provided by Valencia, Ippolito & Bowman
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