Penal Code 667.71 PC - Habitual Sex Offender Law in California
California Penal Code 667.71 PC imposes a prison sentence of 25 years to life for habitual sex offenders, defined as somebody convicted of certain sexual-related offenses, then convicted again of the same crime or another qualifying sex crime.
The criminal justice system considers all sex crimes a severe issue, as many sex offenders with multiple sex crime convictions are believed to threaten the public.
In response to this potential threat to society, state legislators passed laws to keep them incarcerated. Sex crime convictions typically remain on a defendant's criminal record permanently.
As noted above, a habitual sex offender is someone convicted of a specific sex crime and then convicted again of the same crime later or another listed sex offense.
For example, suppose someone is convicted of Penal Code 261 PC rape, serves prison time, and is again convicted of rape after being released.
Suppose someone is convicted of sodomy, then convicted of Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor, or convicted of Penal Code 287 PC oral copulation with a minor twice on different incidents. Our California criminal defense attorneys will look closely at the law below.
What Are the Qualifying Sex Crimes?
The qualifying sex crimes for a habitual sex offender designation are listed in California Penal Code at 667.71(a) PC:
- Penal Code 261 PC – Rape,
- Penal Code 264.1 PC - Rape or penetration in concert,
- Penal Code 269 PC - Aggravated sexual assault of a child,
- Penal Code 287 PC - Oral copulation with a minor,
- Penal Code 288 PC - Lewd acts with a minor,
- Penal Code 288.5 PC - Continuous sexual abuse of a child,
- Penal Code 289 PC - Sexual penetration with a foreign object,
- Penal Code 286 PC - Sodomy,
- Penal Code 207 PC - Kidnapping,
- Penal Code 208 PC - Kidnapping to commit a sex crime,
- Any offense in another jurisdiction similar to a California crime.
Any combination of these crimes will result in habitual sex offender status after the second conviction.
What are the Penalties?
If you were deemed a habitual sex offender, it would significantly increase the possible penalties imposed by a court. Any habitual sex offender found guilty of a felony can face a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.
Further, once released from prison, you could be required to register as a sex offender for life. Typically, there is no chance for a habitual sex offender conviction to get probation.
What Are the Related Crimes?
In California, two primary state crimes are related to habitual sex offenders under PC 667.71(a), including rape or lewd acts with a minor child. Let's review them.
Penal Code 261 PC rape criminalizes a non-consensual sexual act accomplished by threat, force, fraud, or with someone incapable of consent.
A felony conviction carries up to three, six, or eight years in a California state prison.
If the victim was a minor under the age of 18, then you are facing seven, nine, or eleven years in prison. If the victim was a minor under the age of 14, then you are facing nine, eleven, or thirteen years in prison.
Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor child law criminalizes touching a child under age 16 for sexual purposes or causing them to feel themselves.
A conviction under this statute carries lengthy state prison time.
What Legal Defenses Are Available?
Defenses are limited but possible. The only way to avoid a habitual sex offender designation is to prevent being convicted a second time. Thus, the most common defenses to a sex crime include the following:
- False accusation argument involves challenging the accuser's credibility and alleging that the allegations are untrue;
- No physical evidence argument involves challenging the strength of the case, including any physical evidence;
- Police misconduct involves challenging Constitutional violations such as coerced confessions or illegal searches.
Perhaps we could argue that the police lacked probable cause to arrest you, meaning there has to be a reasonable belief that you committed a crime.
It's crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney examine all the case details to determine the best available defenses.
Perhaps we can successfully negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges or even drop the case.
Further, prefiling negotiations with law enforcement and the prosecuting agency could be an option to convince them not to file formal criminal charges before the first court appearance, called a “DA reject.”
Suppose you or a family member have been accused of violating California Penal Code 667.71 PC. In that case, you'll need to contact experienced legal counsel to discuss all the details and legal options moving forward.
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, California. We provide a free case evaluation via phone or fill out the contact form.