California Penal Code section 288a makes it illegal to perform “oral copulation” upon a minor. PC 288a defines oral copulation as “the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ or anus of another person.” In California, any person younger than 18 years old is considered a minor. Consent is irrelevant under PC 288a because minors are legally unable to consent to sexual activity.

If you are charged under PC 288a, in addition to facing a lengthy jail or prison sentence and lifetime registration as a sex offender, you might also be liable for certain expenses to the victim. A recently decided California appellate court decision discussed the liability of defendants to alleged victims for the payment of mental health expenses.

People v. Scott: The Payment of Mental Health Bills under Penal Code 288a

Mental Health Bills under Penal Code 288a
You may be responsible for paying expensive mental health bills under Penal Code 288a if you are convicted.

The defendant, Scott H., was an instructor at a Tae Kwon Do studio owned by the victim’s mother and stepfather. Scott, 17 years old, followed the victim, a 12-year-old boy, into a bathroom stall, pulled down the boy’s pants and put the boy’s penis in his mouth. He also sent sexual text messages to the victim’s cell phone. Scott admitted to the charges, and because of his age, was declared a ward of the court by the juvenile court. The State later moved for monetary restitution for the victim and his immediate family for mental health services from “turmoil and stress” related to the incident. The Superior Court judge ordered $9,540 in restitution for the victim and his family. This decision was appealed by the defendant.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the boy’s family members were not victims of the offense for purposes of restitution payment under Penal Code section 730.6. The State argued that PC 730.6 should be interpreted to include his family as “derivative victims.”

California Court of Appeal Ruling and Rationale

In the end, after receiving instructions from the Supreme Court of California, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District ruled that the victim’s family was entitled to restitution. The court reasoned that it was “constrained by the Constitution to interpret PC 730.6 to include family members as victims entitled to restitution based on Scott’s conduct.”

The Victim’s Bill of Rights of 2008, known as “Marsy’s Law” or Proposition 9, amended the state Constitution and provided for a broad spectrum of victims’ rights, including restitution. Under this amendment, victims were defined to include a person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings and guardians. These definitions and provisions apply to both criminal and delinquent actions.

How Does this Decision Impact Me?

In People v. Scott H., the Second Appellate District attempted to clarify the rules pertaining to restitution. However, this area of the law still remains very complicated. If you or a loved one was charged under PC 288 or 288a, you need to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have the experience to navigate this complicated set of new laws and help you avoid further financial responsibility.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of a criminal offense. If you are being charged with a criminal offense, it is imperative that you contact our law offices immediately. Our attorneys have the experience to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We will fight for your freedom through every step of the process.

Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance and Sherman Oaks. Give us a call today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245. We will get through this together.

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