Can a Child Under 14 Be Prosecuted for Child Sex Abuse?
When it comes to sex crimes, much of the attention by our media and law enforcement seems to focus on adults committing sexual abuse on minors. Rarely do we actually hear about child sex abuse regarding minors committing sexual abuse upon other minors.1 Nonetheless, juveniles account for more than one-third of reported sex offenses against minors. The most startling fact about this number is that juveniles who commit sex offenses are more likely than adult sex offenders to commit these crimes in schools or against younger victims.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requires convicted juvenile sex offenders and adults to be registered into a sex offender database. If offenders fail to register every three months, they can be found guilty33 of a felony.2 However, SORNA only requires registration of juvenile sex offenders ages 14 and older. These convicted juveniles must:
• Provide personal information to state police;
• Verify their personal information on a regular basis for the duration of their court-ordered registration requirement;
• Regularly report changes in their appearance, residence, and employment; and
• Report any new crimes they commit.3
Not all juvenile sexual crimes are committed by children ages 14 and older. How does the law treat those who commit sexual abuse under the age of 14?
How Does the Law Treat Offenders Under the Age of 14 (California Penal Code Section 26)?
California Penal Code Section 26 describes the mentally ill, unconscious, ignorant of the law, and children under 14 as incapable of committing a crime.4
As a result, the juvenile justice system treats offenders under 14 different. Because of overcrowding in California’s juvenile facilities, these facilities must only accept the most violent offenders. A child accused of committing sexual abuse will still be subjected to juvenile court if they are under 14.
Typically though, punishments for these offenders range from probation to light sentences, including counseling. However, if the offense was particularly egregious, the child can be removed from his or her home and sent to a juvenile hall or ranch. All of this is at the discretion of the judge.
Lastly, no matter how appalling the crime or abuse, a child under 14 can never be charged as an adult under California law. California sets the minimum age at 14 for juveniles to be transferred to adult court.
Call the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If your child is being accused of sexual abuse against a minor, it is important that you seek the assistance of an experienced sex crimes attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our team of attorneys has the skill and knowledge necessary to help you obtain the best possible result in your case. We have been successfully defending our clients facing charges of sexual abuse and other sex crimes for over 30 years.
Our offices are conveniently located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks so that we can be available to you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation over the phone. We will be there when you call.