Oct 16, 2020
| Read Time: 3 minutes
If you are facing a sex offense charge in San Diego, it is important to understand the consequences that may apply. California currently requires individuals who have been convicted of designated sexual offenses to register with their local police station or sheriff’s department. The current registration requirement is lifetime registration. Starting January 1, 2021, however, the sex-offender registry system in California will be divided into three tiers, two of which will allow for registration termination after certain requirements are met. What Are the Three Tiers in California? Under the new California Penal Code section 290, the sex-offender registry in the state is divided into three tiers. Eligibility for each tier is determined case by case and is subject to evaluation and determination by a judge. The criteria that a judge will consider include the severity of the crime, the number of offenses, and the results of risk assessment tools. Registrants from tiers one and two must remain registered for a mandatory minimum number of years. Those who meet mandatory minimum requirements under the new rule can petition for termination of their sex-offender registration requirement. The mandatory minimum period begins on the date of release from incarceration, placement, or commitment. If you believe you meet the mandatory minimum, you must continue to register until a California court grants your termination. If you disagree with your tier designation, you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you can appeal the decision. Tier 1 Tier one convictions include a sexual battery (misdemeanor and felony), misdemeanor child pornography, and indecent exposure. Individuals who are ordered to register by a court are designated as tier one unless the court finds that the person meets the criteria for tier two or tier three designation. The court must make these findings on the record. The mandatory minimum registration period for individuals deemed tier-one registrants is ten years if they were convicted in adult court and five years if they were convicted in juvenile court. Tier 2 Tier 2 convictions include incest, rape (if the victim is over 18), and lewd acts with a minor under 14. If the court determines the individual must register as a tier two registrant, the mandatory minimum registration period is 20 years if they were convicted in adult court and ten years if they were convicted in juvenile court. Tier 3 Tier 3 convictions include sex trafficking children, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and sending harmful material to seduce a minor. If a court determines that the registrant must register as tier three, the mandatory minimum registration period is lifetime registration. Different Charge Levels, State vs. Federal In California, as in other states, the charges for sex offenses differ at the state and federal level. If you are required to register in California after being convicted in another state, or at the federal level, then your tier will be assessed based on the equivalent California registrable offense. If there is no such equivalent, you will be registered as a tier two registrant. However, you may be subject to tier three registration if you meet one of three exceptions. What Is Megan’s Law? In 1994, the federal government passed the Wetterling Act, which required all 50 states to establish sex-offender registries. In 1996, the government amended the Act to require states to make information about sex offenders that are deemed relevant to public safety available to the public. This amendment is called Megan’s Law. Under California Megan’s Law, found at Penal Code section 290.46, the California Department of Justice must maintain a website that provides information regarding sex-offender registrants. Information provided on the website includes the registrant’s name, home address (for the more serious offenders), the sex crime for which they were convicted, and physically identifying information. Registrants who meet certain criteria can apply for exclusion under Megan’s Law. Due to recent changes in the law, if you were previously granted exclusion from the California Megan’s Law website, you may no longer be eligible for exclusion. The California Department of Justice determines whether exclusions permitted under the previous law are still eligible for exclusion under the new amendments. If you were previously granted an exclusion, you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you are still eligible. Please be advised, if you are a registered sex offender in California, it is illegal for you to access the sex-offender registry information on California’s Megan’s Law website. Hire An Experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to Help The sex offender registry system in California will soon undergo significant changes. To ensure that you don’t miss out on possible termination of your registration requirement, it is important to seek the help of an experienced attorney. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, have a strong record of defending individuals on the sex offender registry. You don’t need to go through this alone. Contact us today for a free confidential case review. We will walk you through your options, step by step. We will help you determine the strongest defense strategy for your case.
Oct 10, 2020
| Read Time: 3 minutes
In California, Penal Code 647(a) makes it illegal to solicit or perform lewd conduct in public. Lewd conduct is defined as touching someone’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast (your own or someone else’s) either for sexual gratification or to offend or annoy others. If the prosecution has charged you with lewd conduct, you need a strong legal defense. The San Diego criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, are nationally renowned and have tried well over 100 jury trials. We can help you protect your reputation and your rights. What Are the Penalties for Lewd Conduct in San Diego? Lewd conduct in California is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted, the court could sentence you to: Up to six months in county jail, or A fine up to $1,000, or Both. The judge can order probation instead of jail time. This means that you will be under court supervision for up to three years and required to comply with probation requirements like: Counseling, Community service, Paying restitution, or Complying with a restraining order. You do not have to register as a sex offender for a conviction under Penal Code 647(a). However, a lewd conduct conviction in San Diego will go on your criminal record and may affect your ability to obtain housing or employment. How Can I Defend Against a Lewd Conduct Charge in California? The prosecutor has to prove several facts before the court can convict you of lewd conduct in California: You willfully touched your own or someone else’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast; You intended to gratify or arouse yourself or someone else OR to offend or annoy another person; You were in either a public place or a place open to public view; There was a third person who was likely to be offended by the conduct; and You knew or reasonably should have known that the third person was present. If any of these facts are missing from your case, you cannot be convicted of lewd conduct under Penal Code 647(a). With that in mind, there are a number of defenses that might apply to your case concerning lewd conduct. You Didn’t Do It If the touching didn’t happen, then you aren’t guilty of a crime. Perhaps a complaining witness didn’t see what they thought they saw or they misinterpreted it. Touching Was Accidental You can’t be held responsible for accidental touching. Accidentally bumping into someone or brushing against them is not willful touching. Touching Was Not Intended to Gratify, Arouse, or Offend If the touching did occur, but you did not intend to gratify, arouse, or offend someone, you can’t be guilty of lewd conduct. For example, scratching yourself or rubbing a stain out of someone’s clothing would not satisfy the intent requirement. The Area Was Not Open to Public View If the conduct took place in an enclosed area not open to public view, it is not illegal. You Did Not Know Someone Could See You For the court to convict you of lewd conduct, someone has to see you. And even if someone did see you, you cannot be convicted if you had no reason to believe that you could be seen. For example, if you took steps to seclude yourself but someone was peaking at you, you cannot be found guilty. How Do I Fight My Lewd Conduct Charge? If you have a lewd conduct charge in California, you need an experienced defense attorney to protect your rights and understand the California lewd acts in public penal code. We have an excellent track record of exonerating our clients and getting charges dismissed. We offer a free and confidential initial consultation so you can learn how we can help with your defense. Call or contact us online today.
Sep 10, 2020
| Read Time: 3 minutes
Being accused of a sex crime can wreak havoc on your life. In addition to social and emotional consequences, you also face harsh legal penalties. This is particularly true if someone accuses you of child molestation. Due to the significant and sometimes permanent impact of a child molestation accusation, the law protects against false claims. One such protection is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in California differs depending on the crime. Due to recent changes in the law, determining which statute of limitations applies to your case, if any, can be complicated. To determine the statute of limitations on child molestation in California, speak to an experienced attorney today. Defining Laws Around Child Molestation in California Child molestation in California is governed by California Penal Code section 288, which defines the crime as “any lewd or lascivious act . . . upon the body . . of a child who is under the age of 14 . . . with the intent to arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child.” A conviction under this statute is a felony punishable by three to eight years in state prison as long as force was not used, there was only one victim, and the defendant does not have a prior conviction for the same type of charge (among other qualifiers). Being charged with child molestation does not necessarily require that you touched a child’s sexual organ or even the child’s bare skin. The law requires only that an adult touched a child (under the age of 14) in a sexual nature or caused the child to touch themselves. The intent required is to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of the adult or the child. How the Statute of Limitations Is Actually Enforced for Child Molestation The statute of limitations for child molestation in California depends on a lot of factors. First and foremost, if there are qualifiers that make the crime a “life” case, then there is no statute of limitations at all. In other words, someone accused of child molestation forty or fifty years after the fact (or more) can still be charged. What makes child molestation a life case depends on several factors. For instance, if a judge or jury convicts a defendant on charges involving more than one victim, then it is a life case and there is no statute of limitations. Other qualifiers making child molestation a life case (and therefore having no statute of limitations) are when a defendant has a prior conviction for a certain specified sex crime and commits child molestation when a defendant personally inflicts bodily harm on the child during the molestation when the defendant kidnaps the child for the purpose of molestation when the defendant personally uses a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission of the molestation, and others. If the case does not carry life in prison as a potential term, then the general law is that the statute of limitations is forty years. This number was recently changed by the California Legislature from the previous limit of twenty-eight years. It is important to note that because these laws were changed recently, this statute of limitations applies primarily to crimes committed on or after January 1, 2015. It also applies to crimes for which the previous statute of limitations had not run out before January 1, 2015. It is important for you to speak with an experienced attorney to find out which statute of limitations applies to your case. What to Do If You Are Falsely Accused of Child Molestation An accusation of child molestation in California can have dire consequences. If you have been accused of child molestation, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible. Because the statutes of limitations for this crime are significantly longer than those of other crimes, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help you gather evidence to support your defense. The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, prides itself on serving the needs of criminal defendants in San Diego County with compassion and considerable expertise. Our experienced attorneys have tried over 100 jury trials and dozens of bench trials. Additionally, attorney Kerry L. Armstrong is a criminal law specialist certified by the State Bar of California. We offer free, confidential consultations. Call or contact us today so we can help you determine the best strategy for your case.