California law includes a sentencing enhancement that prosecutors can use in cases where a defendant has been convicted of certain sex crimes multiple times.
If a defendant is deemed a “habitual sex offender” under California Penal Code 667.71, they face 25 years to life in additional prison time. As a result, facing habitual sex offender charges is very serious, and if you or someone you know has been charged with a crime that falls under this enhancement, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Attorney Robert M. Helfend is a seasoned criminal defense attorney with more than 30 years of experience representing clients in cases related to the habitual sex offender laws. He offers free consultations and can help you understand your rights and legal options. Contact him today at 805-273-5611 to learn more.
What is a sentencing enhancement?
A sentencing enhancement, or an aggravating factor, is a factor that can increase the severity of your sentence if you’re convicted. It’s important to know that it’s separate from the underlying crime itself and doesn’t change the charges. In California, habitual sex offender laws are considered sentencing enhancements.
Who is considered a ‘Habitual sex offender?’
PC 667.71 states that a habitual sexual offender is someone who was previously convicted of one of thirteen sex crimes and has been convicted a second time for one of those crimes.
The offenses that can qualify someone as a habitual sex offender are:
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Kidnapping to commit certain sex offenses
- Kidnapping with the intent to commit certain sex offenses
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Oral copulation
- Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration, in concert
- Sexual penetration
- Spousal rape
- An offense committed in another jurisdiction that includes any above California offenses.
If I have been convicted of a qualifying sex crime but my offense has been expunged, will it count toward my status?
No. Under Penal Code 667.71, to be considered a ‘habitual sexual offender’ the conviction must still be on your record and not have been expunged or dismissed.
Penalties for a conviction under the California habitual sex offender law
If you are convicted for a crime that includes the California Habitual Sex Offender sentencing enhancement, it can carry a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison, with mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Defenses against habitual sex offender charges
Every case is different, and when you speak with your criminal defense attorney, they will evaluate the facts of your case and work to build the best defense for you.
Some potential defenses that may be available to you include mistaken identity, lack of intent, false accusations and that the act was ultimately consensual. The burden of proof is, of course, on the prosecution in these cases and your attorney will work to ensure that all evidence presented is held up to the same legal standards.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense related to the Habitual Sex Offender Law, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
Robert M. Helfend is a criminal defense attorney specializing in defending people charged with sex crimes under the California Habitual Sex Offender Law. He offers a free consultation to evaluate your case and provide options for you. Call today to schedule a free consultation – 805-273-5611.