When we think of the idea of life in prison, most of us think about the crimes that one would have to commit to be sentenced to that kind of a term. Our minds immediately go to some of the most violent crimes we can think of: murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery.
What many people do not understand is that there are ways that lesser crimes can be punished with life sentences. In 2012, for example, Julius Lewis was sentenced to 29 years to life for five counts of a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14 in violation of California Penal Code section 288(a). 1 The punishment for a single count of this crime is generally three, six or eight years.
So, why did Lewis end up with a sentence of 29 years to life? The answer lies in another section of the California Penal Code that serves the purpose of increasing the punishment for performing certain sex crimes in specific ways. This section, PC 667.61, is a complex and convoluted statute that can be difficult to grasp, but could have very serious consequences for you if you have been charged with a sex crime.
Understanding How California Penal Code Section 667.61 Applies
In order for a court to apply this sentence enhancement in your case, two elements must be proven: (1) the crime you committed is one of the crimes listed under the statute, and (2) you committed the crime in a manner that would make you eligible for the enhancement.
PC 667.61 applies to a specific list of nine sex crimes. They are:
- Rape (Penal Code Section 261(a)(2) or 261(a)(6))
- Spousal rape (Penal Code Section 262(a)(1) or 262(a)(4))
- Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration in concert with a third person (Penal Code Section 264.1)
- Lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 (Penal Code Section 288(a))
- Lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 with force or fear (Penal Code Section 288(b))
- Sexual penetration (Penal Code Section 289(a))
- Sodomy (Penal Code Section 286(c)(2), 286(c)(3), or 286(d))
- Oral copulation (Penal Code Section 288a(c)(2), 288a(c)(3), or 288a(d))
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code Section 288.5)) 2
In addition to committing one of these crimes, PC 667.61(d) requires that you must have committed it in a way that either involves one of the following factors:
- Aggravated kidnapping (substantial increased risk of harm to the victim)
- Aggravated mayhem (intentionally causing disability or dismemberment)
- Inflicting great bodily injury
- Inflicting bodily injury on a person under the age of 14
- Burglary with intent to commit a sex offense 3
OR, you committed the crime in a manner involving two or more of these factors listed in PC 667.61(e):
- Non-aggravated kidnapping
- Burglary (without intent to commit a sex crime)
- Multiple victims
- Tying or binding the victim
- Use of a controlled substance (such as a date rape drug)
- Use of force or fear to cause a minor to engage in a commercial sex act (such as child pornography or prostitution) 4
The Effects of the Enhancement
If the prosecution can prove that you committed one of the listed crimes, and that you committed it with either one of the factors under PC 667.61(d) or two of the factors listed in PC 667.61(e), the court may increase your sentence to 25 years to life.
If the prosecution can prove that you committed the crime with only one of the factors in PC 667.61(e), then the court may increase your sentence to 15 years to life.
Contact the Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Right Away
A sex crime charge can have devastating consequences, and could even land you in prison for the rest of your life. That is why it is so crucial that you choose an attorney who has the experience and the knowledge necessary to fight a sex crime charge. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been successfully helping clients facing these kinds of charges for over 30 years. We are dedicated to working tirelessly on our clients’ behalf to provide them with the best defense possible. Let us help you, too.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in California’s sex crime laws near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [“Man Sentenced to 29 Years to Life for Child Molestation,” Press Release of the Office of the San Francisco District Attorney, January 6, 2012, available at http://sfdistrictattorney.org/index.aspx?page=156]↩
2. [Cal. Pen. Code § 667.61(c)]↩
3. [Cal. Pen. Code § 667.61(d)]↩
4. [Cal. Pen. Code § 667.61(e)]↩