The California criminal justice system takes sex crimes very seriously. Sex offenders who have been convicted of multiple felony sex crimes are believed to pose a threat to the public, and in response, the state government has passed ceratin laws to keep them incarcerated.
California Penal Code 667.71, also known as the “Habitual Sex Offender Law,” is a sentencing enhancement that is meant to keep repeated sex offenders behind bars as long as possible. Someone who has been charged under PC 667.71 can face severe consequences, including 25-years to life in prison and mandatory registration as a California sex offender for the remainder of their life.
If you or someone you know is facing habitual sex offender charges, it is crucial that you enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is a ‘habitual sex offender’ in California?
Under California Penal Code 667.71(a), a habitual sex offender is a person who has been previously convicted of one or more of thirteen specified sex crimes and who is also currently convicted of one or more of those thirteen offenses.
The thirteen sexual offenses specified under Penal Code 661.71(a) are:
- Rape – Penal Code § 261(a)(3) or § 261(a)(6)
- Spousal rape – Penal Code § 262(a)(1) or § 262(a)(4)
- Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration, in concert – Penal Code § 264.1
- Lewd or lascivious act – Penal Code § 288(a) or § 288(b)
- Sexual penetration – Penal Code § 289(a) or § 289(j)
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child – Penal Code § 288.5
- Sodomy – Penal Code § 286(c) or § 286(d)
- Oral copulation – Penal Code § 288a(c) or § 288a(d)
- Kidnapping – Penal Code § 207(b)
- Kidnapping to commit certain sex offenses – Penal Code § 208(d)
- Kidnapping with the intent to commit certain sex offenses – Penal Code § 209(b)
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child – Penal Code § 269
- An offense committed in another jurisdiction that includes all of the elements of any above California offenses.
Charges that have been expunged do not count as a prior conviction under PC 667.71, however, many serious charges and felony charges cannot be expunged in California. Additionally, sex crime convictions remain on a person’s criminal record indefinitely and are not removed after a period of time.
Penalties for ‘habitual sex offender’ convictions
PC 667.71 is a felony offense and is considered to be a more serious charge than the specific underlying offenses on their own. Due to the seriousness of the offense, the penalties are quite severe:
- 25 years to life in California State Prison
- Mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender
Legal defenses against ‘habitual sex offender’ charges
Your criminal defense attorney will examine the evidence against you and work with you to determine the best possible defense strategy. In some cases, it might be possible to avoid harsh penalties by having your charges reduced or dismissed. Below are some common defenses against habitual sex offender charges.
The sex act was consensual
If the underlying crime(s) of your PC 667.71 charge require a lack of a consent in order to make a conviction, the prosecution must be able to prove that an act was committed against another person’s will.
If the circumstances of the alleged act meet the legal definition of consent, you may not be guilty of the underlying crime required for a PC 667.71 conviction.
Police arrested the wrong person
In some cases, an eyewitness might incorrectly identify a perpetrator or corroborate the guilt of a defendant. An alleged victim might also make false accusations out of revenge, jealousy or other reasons. These scenarios could lead law enforcement to arrest a suspect who is innocent of the alleged crime.
The prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime. Evidence of a wrongful arrest could be used in your defense.
Your confession was coerced
According to California law, it is illegal for police to coerce a confession by using overbearing measures such as force or intimidation. If a defendant is charged under PC 667.71 as a result of a coerced confession, the judge may choose not to permit the use of the confession as evidence or even drop the case altogether.
No probable cause
In order for a police officer to arrest or detain a suspect, they must have “probable cause,” or a reasonable belief, based on evidence or circumstances, that the suspect committed a crime. Evidence obtained following an arrest performed improperly may not be permissible and could lead to PC 667.71 charged being reduced or dismissed.
A habitual sex offender charge is incredibly serious and could lead to life-altering consequences.
However, depending on the details of your case, a California criminal defense attorney could help you get your charges reduced or dropped or your sentence reduced through plea bargains or defense strategies.
As a Los Angeles-based criminal defense lawyer with over three decades of experience, I have represented clients against some of the most serious charges. As your dedicated attorney, I can help you build a strong defense against your PC 667.71 accusation in order to get you the best possible outcome. Contact my firm today for your free consultation – 800-834-6434.