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A Lewd or Lascivious Act on a Child by Force or Fear in Violation of Penal Code Section 288(b)(1) Can be Punishable by Life in Prison

At Wallin & Klarich, we handle a number of child molestation cases. If you or a loved one is charged with child molestation, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable on child molestation laws. The statute of limitations does not bar the defendant’s prosecution on child molestation charges under Section 288 charges because the one-strike provision of Penal Code Section 667.61 makes this offense punishable by life imprisonment. This allows the prosecution to still charge the crime even if it has passed the six-year statute of limitations. (People v. Perez, (Feb. 24, 2010, No. H033386.) The court held that section 667.61 is not an enhancement but is an alternate penalty scheme that, when charged, defines the length of imprisonment for the substantive offense.

In Perez, the defendant was charged with four counts of committing a lewd or lascivious act on a child by force or fear in violation of Penal Code section 288(b)(1) that occurred fifteen years ago. Each of the four charges named a different victim. The information also alleged that the defendant fell under the alternative and more severe punishment scheme set forth in Penal Code section 667.61. The jury found him guilty of three counts of section 288(b)(1), and the court sentenced the defendant to 45 years to life in a state prison. On appeal, the defendant argued that since section 288(b)(1) was punishable by imprisonment for eight years or more, his prosecution should have been commenced within six years after commission of the alleged offenses.

The court found that Penal Code section 799 provided that when an offense was punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison for life, the defendant’s prosecution for such offenses might be commenced at any time. Although the maximum punishment for a violation of section 288(b)(1) was eight years in prison, the offender who suffered his conviction pursuant to an alternative penalty scheme under section 667.61(e)(5) against more than one victim was subject to a life sentence. Thus, he was subject to the life-term provision of Penal Code section 799, and it was permissible to commence a criminal prosecution fifteen years after he committed these crimes.

It is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide clarity and quality representation in your sentencing matter. Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience in handling child molestation cases. Call (888) 280-6839 to speak to one of Wallin & Klarich’s aggressive and experienced child molestation attorneys in California today. Please visit us at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.